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Sleep After 50

Sleep After 50
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As we get older, our bodies change, and it can get harder and harder to get high-quality sleep. However difficult it may be, getting good sleep is the key to a healthy and happy lifestyle. A good night’s rest can lower stress levels, as well as the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. We must respond to our changing bodies and adapt our sleep styles and patterns in order to take better care of ourselves.

What Causes Poor Sleep in Older Adults?

  • Less melatonin:Melatonin is the sleep hormone and helps regulate our internal sleep rhythms. As we age, however, our bodies produce less and less of it, which can make it hard to fall asleep and wake up at a regular time.
  • Lack of exercise: Many older adults struggle to find the time or energy to exercise regularly. Yet, a sedentary lifestyle can increase stress levels and leave you with pent up energy at night. Exercise helps regulate your sleep schedule by boosting your energy during the day and helping you feel sleepy at nighttime.
  • Other health issues: The medical issues that become more common as we grow older can create discomfort that makes it hard to fall, and stay, asleep. Prostate or bladder issues can wake you up to use the bathroom, while menopause can cause hot flashes that hit in the middle of the night. Similarly, digestive and lung issues, coupled with arthritis, can make it difficult to get comfortable enough to fall asleep.

What to Do:

  • Customize your sleeping environment: It’s important that your bedroom caters to your specific needs. If you struggle with back pain, use an ergonomically-supportive mattress, and if you wake up to your partner’s snoring, test out ear plugs or a white noise machine.
  • Boost your melatonin levels: While you can take a melatonin supplement, there are also natural ways to boost the sleep hormone. Incorporating melatonin-rich foods, such as walnuts and oranges, into your diet, and avoiding LED light at nighttime can keep the hormone in check and make it much easier to fall asleep quickly.
  • Reduce mental stress: A calm mind can relax into sleep much quicker than one racked with anxiety. Lower your stress by practicing a little self-care. Try meditating before bed to breathe and relax, or journaling to reflect on the day and relieve some of your worries.
  • Exercise in the evening: Some light exercise in the cooler hours of evening can help you sleep more soundly. A quick jog or even a walk around the neighborhood will burn energy and make your body crave restorative sleep. Plus, exercise can help you destress and clear your head.

Follow these simple steps to stop counting sheep and start looking after your sleep health.

 

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