Sleep as We Age
Sleeping is important at any age. When we get proper rest, we feel better and think clearer. We are less likely to be irritable, feel depressed, have memory problems or fall.
Older adults require about the same amount of sleep as other adults – about seven to nine hours per night. However, they can have a more difficult time achieving a healthy amount of sleep. Older adults wake up often due to pain, health issues, frequent urination and side effects from medications. They may also have health conditions that impact sleep, such as sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease or heart disease.
In addition, experts have found that our sleep cycle changes as we age. Older adults tend to have more broken sleep. Their sleep is lighter, and they often fall asleep early and wake up early.
While we shouldn’t assume that older adults are sleeping less than other adults, a lack of sleep can be tied to physical health problems, mental health problems, or it could be a side effect of medication. It is important to discuss any sleep issues with a physician.
To get a better night’s sleep, you can:
- Establish a sleep routine by going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day – even on the weekends or when you are traveling
- Limit caffeine during the day, especially in the late afternoon and early evenings
- Avoid alcohol before bedtime
- Limit how much you drink an hour and a half before bedtime to reduce bathroom trips
- Keep your bedroom quiet, dark and cool. We are more susceptible to light and noise as we age.
- Avoid napping too late in the day
- Exercise regularly, but avoid exercising within three hours of bedtime
- Participate in soothing activities before bed, such as taking a bath, meditating, listening to calm music or reading a book
- Avoid using backlit items, such as tablets, computers or cellphones, within one hour of bedtime
- Review medications with your physician to see if they are impacting your sleep
- Discuss any pain issues with your physician
- Stretch in the mornings and evenings to help aches and pains
About One MacDonough Place
These helpful tips are from One MacDonough Place, an assisted living community owned by Middlesex Health. It is located in Middletown. For more information about One MacDonough Place, visit onemacdonoughplace.org or call 860-358-5802.
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Dr. Marilise Hyacinth addresses the topic of aging at a Middlesex Health Women’s Wellness Fund event.