As we get older, we may not be getting enough quality sleep. Aging can affect the quality of your sleep. You may wake up more often and have a less consistent sleep pattern than you did when you were younger. One of the most common age-related sleep changes is waking up more frequently. The most likely cause is some type of physical discomfort, such as the need to use the bathroom or aches and pains. Another common problem is it may take you longer to fall asleep. Luckily, older folks are generally able to fall back asleep just as quickly as younger people do.
Here are some tips to improve your sleep quality:
- Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether any of the current medications you take consider could be affecting your ability to get a good night’s sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep, talk to your doctor about anything you can take to help you.
- Stop drinking fluids within two hours of bedtime to minimize trips to the bathroom.
- If pain keeps you awake at night, talk to your doctor to see if taking an over-the-counter pain medication before bed may help.
- Keep your bedroom as dark as possible, by limiting lights from the TV and other electronic devices. Light disrupts your body’s natural sleep rhythm.
- Limit caffeine intake, particularly in the eight hours before bedtime.
- Avoid alcohol near bedtime — alcohol may help you fall asleep, but once it wears off, it makes you more likely to wake up in the night.
- Limit daytime napping to just 10 to 20 minutes. If you find that daytime naps make you less sleepy at bedtime, avoid napping altogether.
It’s important to aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night. If you experience poor quality sleep despite taking these steps, or you are tired or sleepy on most days, talk to your doctor.