5 Steps to Getting Your Best Night’s Rest in Your 50s, 60s, 70s and Beyond

Have you recently gone from sleeping soundly all night long to tossing and turning? There’s a reason: As people get older, they tend to have more trouble falling asleep and staying asleep (even though seniors need the same amount of sleep as other adults). This change could be due to a number of reasons such as medications, illnesses, stress over big changes in your life or adopting a more sedentary lifestyle.

And a lack of sleep doesn’t just make you feel rundown – it can also impact your physical health. A good night’s sleep allows your body to repair cells that were damaged throughout the day and keeps your immune system strong.  Aging adults who get more sleep also tend to be in a good mood and are able to think more clearly throughout the day. This might explain why aging adults who don’t get enough sleep are likelier to suffer from diseases like depression, memory loss, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and weight problems.

If you find yourself struggling to catch a good number of ZZZs, try a few of these tips:

  1. Set a regular bedtime. Sticking to a routine, even on weekends, will help your body get used to falling asleep and waking up at the same time every day. Life changes like retirement can often change your sleeping schedule. If you find yourself having trouble with this, set an alarm to go off when you need to start getting ready for bed in the evening.
  2. Fix yourself a light bedtime snack. A glass of warm milk can help you feel drowsy because it contains an amino acid that acts as a natural sedative. Milk is also a great source of calcium which helps increase the production of melatonin, a sleeping hormone in the body. Calcium can also help increase bone density in aging adults.
  3. Move your body. Exercising in the afternoon can greatly improve your sleep quality. Just 30 minutes of walking can also lower your risk for heart disease, diabetes and some cancers in aging adults. Just be careful not to schedule your workouts within three hours of your bedtime—that can actually keep you awake longer.
  4. Talk to your doctor. A medication that you are regularly taking could be interrupting your sleep. Your doctor may be able to adjust your dosage time or even switch you to a different medication.
  5. Go outside. Getting outside is important because exposure to daylight helps regulate your sleep and wake cycle in your body. You can increase your time outside by choosing outdoor activities like walking, biking or even croquet.

What other techniques do you use to get a good night’s rest? 

Photo credit: Jason Trbovich

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