Insomnia or sleeplessness or even other minor sleep issues like the lack in quality of sleep are usually experienced, as we age. Of course, the saying sleep like a baby is highly indicative of the fact that, it is when we are babies that we sleep the best. As we grow, many internal and external factors also affect our sleep. And in old age, sleep patterns change too. This is due to the changes in the internal clock, which is affected by the hormonal changes as well. Mostly, as we age, we may go to sleep earlier and also wake up earlier than the younger generation around. This can be a cause of irritation for self as well as the others around.
Factors affecting sleep
As we age, there could be some health issues that crop up, and these health issues or related anxiety may cause sleeplessness. For example, arthritis pain or acid reflux or indigestion can easily keep us awake. Another issue could be the disruption in the daily schedule that we have followed for many years. When we retire, there could be a lack of activity and a relaxation mode that can set in and cause changes in sleep schedule. Sometimes frequent urination issues causing one to wake up in the night can also disrupt the sleep. Stress and modern lifestyle can also such issues, especially if the seniors are living alone, with no other family around.
1. Try to maintain an active lifestyle to the extent possible, with regular exercise and meditation. This can improve the sleep quality by bounds.
2. If there are niggling health issues like the arthritis pain, then one should consult a doctor and take proper medication and help for getting adequate sleep.
3. Avoid alcohol to the extent possible, or limit it so that it does not affect your sleep.
4. Avoid caffeine in the post-lunch session entirely as that hinders your sleep. You could instead try out some herbal tea, which is healthier.
5. Skip afternoon naps, unless you are exhausted and need it. Afternoon naps can actually get you into trouble sleeping in the night, especially, if you take long naps. Short power naps are ok as they refresh you for the rest of the day.
6. To the extent possible, follow a sleep schedule and stick to it. When your body gets used to this, it will be more comfortable to sleep.
7. Do not strain yourself too much in the four hours before sleep with physical exercise. This can interfere with your sleep.
8. Try meditation and relaxation exercises just before sleeping, as that can help you with sleeping well.
9. A warm water bath has been known to help get a good sleep for many people.
10. Avoid all devices like TV, phones, and tablets, in the bedroom as that can cause difficulty in falling asleep.
11. Eat your meals a couple of hours before bedtime, so it gets time to digest well and also avoid large meals in the night.
12. Use low lighting in the bedroom to induce sleep.
So, if you are having trouble falling asleep, or feeling that your sleep quality is affected, rest assured that you are not alone. It is a natural occurrence with aging that cannot be avoided. However, as mentioned above, a few simple steps can help improve the sleep drastically and that too, without the side effects of the sleep medications. Sleep medications can even become, addictive as well. Hence, before the sleep issues get worse, try to get into a pattern that can help induce natural sleep.