Why is it harder to sleep peacefully as you get older?
Do you find yourself moodier and more irritable?
Have your sleep patterns changed over time?
Are you experiencing sleeplessness?
Are you plagued by restless nights? Ever wondered why?
You’re not alone. Undisturbed, peaceful sleep seems like an utopian concept to many. As you get older, unhealthy sleeping habits will affect your health. It is not uncommon for many to take more than half an hour to fall asleep at night.
Well, I might know what’s wrong.
As the number of candles on your birthday cake increases, you might notice that you wake up earlier, sleep for fewer hours or even fall asleep more during the day. Along with physical changes, your sleep patterns also change as you get older.
‘Sleep architecture’ is a normal part of ageing. It is a common misconception that the need for sleep declines with age. Our sleep needs a constant seven to nine hours throughout adulthood. Despite this, older people tend to sleep less or have more fragmented sleep. This is due to a decrease in the production of melatonin.
Here’s something healthy sleepers follow before they hit the sack —
Ditch the devices, unplug yourself —
Going down the rabbit hole of scrolling through your devices before bed or blindly staring at your TV, iPad or phone is an awful idea. These devices emit ‘blue light’, which signals your brain that it is daytime, thus keeping your brain alert instead of sleep ready. It’s important to disconnect yourself from your devices and the happenings of the world, and focus on just one thing- sleep. If you depend on your device to wake you up, leave your phone out of the bedroom to avoid temptation or better still use a regular alarm clock instead. Putting your devices away a couple of hours before bed is good practice, you will almost instantly notice the difference in the quality of your sleep.
Early to bed, early to rise… Be consistent with bed time —
Your body clock needs to be reset if you have trouble sleeping. It relishes in consistency so try keeping regular bedtime. Everyone’s body needs a different amount of sleep to function optimally but there is no harm in getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Going to bed at the same time each night is supremely beneficial for overall sleep health. So crawl into bed at a reasonable hour and the same hour every night.
Brush those teeth, floss those gums —
Brush your teeth before sleeping. Brushing your teeth twice a day is the first step in the basics of oral hygiene. Plaque and bacteria won’t waste a minute before setting up shop in your mouth, making your breath foul. Additionally, we’ve all heard our dentists nag us to floss. It is worth the trouble. Plus nothing beats going to sleep with a minty fresh mouth.
Our bodies naturally cool down when it’s time to sleep. You can trick your body into jump starting this process by going for a warm bath. As your body cools down, you feel calm and sleep induced. Body temperature is crucial in regulating your sleep, the warm water has a powering-down effect on you, making you feel relaxed and ready to crawl in bed. Be sure not to overheat your body because this will keep you awake instead.
Dehydration causes headaches and fatigue, which is definitely not how you want to wake up to live your best life the next day. The answer isn’t to chug a gallon of water before bed but to hydrate yourself continuously throughout the day. While alcohol can make you sleepy and even help you to fall asleep, the quality of sleep is always poor, instead try swapping that last glass of wine for a glass of water. You’ll wake up hydrated and fresh.
Smart snacking —
Eating before bed isn’t the worst thing you can do but it definitely isn’t the best either. Rather than scarfing down a slice of cake, opt for sleep friendly foods or a cup of herbal tea.
Journaling or meditating —
Write it out. Journaling can actually boost your immune system as well as help you ‘vomit’ your thoughts in a constructive way. It will make you feel lighter by clearing your mind. You can also calm your mind with a few moments of meditation before bed. Chanting a few mantras, deep breathing or praying offering gratitude can do wonders for good quality sleep.
Ever heard the saying; ‘stretch like a cat’ when you get into bed and before you get out of bed in the morning. Stretching fully is a great tension-reliever and makes your body feel relaxed and supple. Try it, the feeling is feel amazing.
Don’t stress —
Going into an overthinking spin before sleeping, can make you a slave to stress and anxiety. If you feel too stressed out or anxious before bed, it will be hard for you to fall asleep immediately or you may fall asleep with exhaustion and wake up a few hours later anxious and with a racy mind. Always calm yourself down by engaging in some pre-bed relaxation activities, this will ensure a good night’s rest.
Do you know — From the age of sixty, your circadian rhythm shifts forward slightly making you tired earlier in the evening and, combined with the lower melatonin levels, makes it harder to fall asleep when you actually go to bed.
Want better well-being?
The most important thing for better well-being is your daily dose of sound sleep. Prioritising some shut eye doesn’t have to be difficult if you follow a bedtime ritual. Humans are basically creatures of habit, so having a bedtime ritual can do wonders for your sleep, especially its quality. The benefits will always outweigh the preparation.
Take a bath, brush your teeth, shut down all gadgets, sip on some herb tea, light reading, meditate, listen to soothing music.
These small practices will set you up for a bright tomorrow.