Are you getting enough sleep?! Click here to use our Sleep Cycle Calculator to figure out the best time for you to go to bed based on when your wakefulness
Does Insomnia Increase With Age?Unfortunately, insomnia does increase with age. There are numerous reasons (we’ll get to that), but suffice to say that the older you get, the harder it is to get a solid eight hours. The good news is that there are some super simple solutions that can help us understand the relationship between sleep and age, and will guide us in our quest to sleep better as we age. This is a natural phenomenon, but it doesn’t mean you have to feel helpless.
What Causes Insomnia In Older Adults?Insomnia can occur more often when we’re older because sleep and age are inversely correlated. When we age, our sleep patterns change. We awaken more during the night and earlier in the morning. Even though we need the same amount of sleep, our bodies often only allow us 6.5 to 7 hours of sleep a night, a result of this means that the transition between sleep and waking feels more abrupt. This is why older people feel like they were better sleepers when they were young.
Start A Routine And Stick To ItHere’s one way that sleep and age don’t change: they’re better when you stay consistent. Our sleep schedules are ruled by something called the circadian rhythm. It’s basically an internal process to help our bodies learn to initiate and maintain sleep. When we get older, our circadian rhythm can become more sensitive to change. One easy way to combat feeling the effects of sleep and age is to make sure that you’re going to bed at the same time every day — even on the weekends. Pick a time that works for you, say ten PM, and then keep that same bedtime every day for two weeks. At the end of that time, your body should be so trained that you’ll be able to fall asleep and wake up without an alarm clock — no matter how old you are.
Keep Your Room For SleepingWe become more sensitive to blue light as we age, which can signal our brain that it’s time to be active and awake. Unfortunately, our society has become addicted to blue light, which is found emitting from most tablets, computers, and television screens. If you’re looking for how to sleep better as we age, here is one example of a simple fix that will help you now, AND ten years in the future — ditch the screens. When you keep your bedroom for sleeping, not only does it limit the amount of time you’re looking at blue light, it also trains your mind to get ready for bed as soon as you enter the room. This becomes even more invaluable as we get older and become sensitive to those stimuli. Ditch the screens and read a book under low watt light bulbs instead.
Avoid That Afternoon Cup Of CoffeeUnfortunately not only are age and sleep linked but so is caffeine sensitivity. As we get older, we actually become more sensitive to caffeine. While that 4PM cup of coffee when you were 20 was a pick-me-up, at 40 it can be what keeps you awake at night. To make sure that you don’t have any residual caffeine in your system when trying to go to sleep, you’ll have to curtail caffeine AT LEAST 4-6 hours before bedtime. Some older people have such an extreme sensitivity to caffeine that they need to give themselves a solid twelve hours without it before they can sleep. Keep your morning cup of joe as you age, but maybe switch to decaf – or better yet, herbal tea – when the clock gets past eleven AM.
Don’t Nap — SeriouslyA nap here or there can be a nice recharge, but if you find yourself snoozing in the middle of the day on the regular, it could be hurting your sleep at night. We mentioned before that you probably have vivid memories of your grandparents nodding off in the middle of the day, but training yourself to avoid those lulls is a big part of dealing with sleep and age. Instead of sleeping, try to exercise or keep yourself active. Not only will it avoid sleeping at that moment, it will help physically tire your body so that sleep comes more naturally when you reach your actual bedtime.
Give Yourself A Mattress That Supports Your Age And Body TypeWe have more aches and pains as we age — that’s a fact of life. One way to minimize those difficulties manifesting when you sleep is to make sure you have a mattress that supports and comforts your body’s problem areas. That usually means finding a bed that is good for your back and neck health. You won’t wake up achy, and you’ll probably wake up less overall, leading to better REM sleep. This can help with cognition and learning and help prevent neurological disorders like dementia. One way to sleep better as we age is to invest in a Nectar Mattress. Not only is a Nectar a comfortable and supportive mattress, it comes with a forever warranty, guaranteeing that it will be part of your life for years to come.