How does aging affect sleep and what you can do about it?

As we age, our sleep patterns change, and poor sleep can affect us in all sorts of ways.

As we age, our sleep patterns change. As a result, we often find that we don’t sleep as well as we used to and that getting a good night’s sleep becomes more and more difficult. This can be frustrating, as poor sleep can significantly impact our day-to-day lives.

Common effects of aging on sleep

A common change is that we tend to have more trouble falling asleep and staying asleep as we age. This is often due to changes in our sleep cycles [1]. For example, our sleep cycles tend to shorten as we spend less time in deep sleep as we get older, making it harder to fall asleep and harder to stay asleep through the night.

Another common change is that we tend to wake up more during the night. This is often due to increased bathroom trips; as we age, our bodies produce less of the hormone that helps us hold onto urine during the night.

Chronic sleep deprivation can severely limit health and longevity, with experts recommending at least seven hours of sleep per night. Both insufficient and excessive sleep can impair cognitive performance, as well as being linked to mood disorders like anxiety and depression. This is thought to be due to the disruption of deep sleep.

How to get a good night’s sleep as you age

While changes in our sleep patterns are common as we age, there are things that we can do to help improve our sleep.

One of the best things you can do is establish a regular sleep schedule [2]. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This will help regulate your body’s natural sleep rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Another helpful tip is to create a relaxing bedtime routine. This can involve taking a warm bath, reading a book, or doing gentle stretching. Doing these things can help signal to your body that it is time to sleep and make it easier to fall asleep.

Foods and drinks that can help improve your sleep quality

Certain foods and drinks can help to improve your sleep quality. For example, some of the best foods for sleep contain magnesium, such as dark leafy greens, nuts, and seeds. Magnesium is a natural relaxant and can help to promote restful sleep.

Herbal teas can also be helpful for sleep. Chamomile and lavender tea are especially good choices as they can help to promote relaxation.

Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening as it can make it harder to fall asleep. Alcohol should also be avoided [3] in the evening as it can disrupt sleep.

Stephan Baldwin, Founder of Assisted Living, says that “while it can be hard to give up our favourite foods and drinks, avoiding caffeine and alcohol in the evening can help improve our sleep as we age.”

Herbal remedies that can help you get a good night’s sleep

If you’re looking for a more natural way to improve your sleep, some herbs can help. Valerian root is a popular herb used to aid sleep. It is thought to work by increasing gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation.

Hops is another herb that can be helpful for sleep. It is often used in combination with valerian root. Finally, lemon balm is an herb traditionally used to calm the nerves and promote sleep. Consider speaking with a naturopathic doctor before taking any herbal supplements, as they can interact with other medications.

Accessories for a better night’s sleep

While natural sleep remedies can be helpful, sometimes we need a little extra help to get a good night’s sleep.

Sleep accessories can help bridge the gap and provide the support needed to get a good night’s rest. Some helpful sleep accessories include:

  • A white noise machine, which helps mask disruptive noises.
  • An eye mask, which blocks out light and promotes a sense of calm.
  • A weighted blanket, which helps reduce anxiety and promotes relaxation.

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential at any age, but it can become more challenging as we age. So if you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep, don’t despair. By following some of the tips in this article, you can improve your sleep quality and get the rest you need for your best health and longevity.

[1] https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004018.htm
[2] https://familydoctor.org/https-familydoctor-org-sleep-changes-in-older-adults/ 
[3] https://betterhealthwhileaging.net/how-sleep-affects-health-and-changes-with-aging/

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