Most healthy adults require 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Are you getting enough?
If you’re not getting a restful sleep when your head hits the pillow, there may be a good reason. As you age, your body produces lower levels of growth hormone, so you’re apt to experience a decrease in time spent in deep sleep (which is the most refreshing part of the sleep cycle). When this occurs, you’ll often experience more fragmented sleep, meaning that you’ll wake up more often during the night.
Even people who used to sleep like a baby find themselves tossing and turning all night as they get older. Or, you may suddenly discover that you’re falling asleep earlier in the evening and waking up earlier in the morning. Plus, you may find you’re spending a longer time in your bed each night in an attempt to get the hours of sleep you need. Or, you may be taking several catnaps during the day to make up the difference. But while such changes may seem alarming, they’re a normal part of the aging process, experts say. There’s no need to stress over these changes. Here are some strategies that you can use to get a better night’s rest:
Aerobic activity releases chemicals in your body that promote a better sleep. Exercises to consider include dancing, golfing, lawn bowling, and brisk walking. Even if you have mobility issues, there are activities, like water exercises, that you can do to prepare for a good night’s rest. Try to schedule exercise earlier in the day as it will increase your heart rate. Your doctor can help you devise an exercise plan.
Limit sleep aids.
Sleeping pills have side effects and aren’t meant for long-term use. Plus, they don’t address the cause of your insomnia and can hamper your efforts to get a good night’s sleep in the long run. Before using any kind of sleep aid, get your physician’s advice.
Maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day, even on weekends. Sleep experts contend that consistency reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
Don’t just lie there. If you don’t start to fall into slumber within about 20 minutes, get out of bed and do something relaxing. Try reading or listening to soothing music. Experiment with different bedtime rituals, such as taking a bath or meditating, and see what works best for you. Go back to bed only when you begin to feel tired.