A myth has been circulating, claiming that as you age, you need less sleep. That couldn’t be further from the truth. As a senior, you should still get the recommended 7–9 hours of uninterrupted sleep, but hormonal changes can make it harder. 

What Causes Sleep Deprivation?

Besides hormonal changes, other factors also cause sleep problems for those over 60.

Health Issues

Older adults are more prone to medical conditions that can cause insomnia or poor sleep quality. The most common are sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, arthritis, or chronic pain.

Schedule Changes

Once you retire, you tend to have a lot more time and fewer responsibilities.

Less Exercise

Aging also means more aches and pains that didn’t exist 10–20 years ago.

Stress

You might not have to worry about a demanding boss or bad co-workers, but there’s plenty of other stressors to worry about, such as loss of a loved one, health issues, financial difficulties, etc.

If you’re not getting as much sleep as you did when you were younger, but still feel rested the next morning, then there’s nothing to worry about. However, if you’re feeling drowsy and unfocused, there are several things you can do to catch some Zzz’s.

Maintain a Consistent Sleep Routine

While you might not have to wake up at 6 a.m. anymore, if you want a good night’s rest you should go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. This helps reset your natural circadian rhythm so that you’re more prone to feel sleepy at night and alert during the day. 

Of course, having a bedtime routine is more than just going to bed and waking at a set time every day. A good routine starts about an hour or hour and a half before you actually go to bed.

So what is a good bedtime routine? It depends on what you like to do. In general, you want to focus on activities that promote relaxation, such as:

  • Listening to calming music,
  • Meditation,
  • Reading a book, or
  • Taking a warm bath.

Get Some Exercise

You don’t have to spend hours at the gym to reap the benefits of exercise. In fact, there are plenty of exercises you can do at home with very little equipment.

Yoga

There are numerous online videos you can find for free that will teach you the basic yoga poses. With that said, it’s probably a good idea to visit a studio a few times as the instructor can watch your form and correct it.

Resistance Training

You don’t have to lift weights to get stronger. In fact, one of the best items you can add to your home gym are resistance bands. Also known as exercise bands, these offer full body training in a light and compact package. 

Cardio

There are many different types of cardio exercises you can do outside of the gym like walking, dancing, and hiking.

Exercise releases serotonin into your bloodstream, which can help you relax. Just make sure you exercise at least four hours before you go to bed. Otherwise, it can have the opposite effect.

Eat Right

A healthy diet provides your body with all of the necessary minerals and nutrients, but did you know certain foods can help promote sleep? You’re probably already aware that turkey can help you sleep, but there are several other food items on the list.

  • Bananas contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps promote sleep (and also found in turkey).
  • Cherries contain melatonin which helps regulate your circadian rhythm.
  • Apples, apricots, and peaches contain magnesium, which can help improve sleep quality.
  • Whole grains can help increase tryptophan levels.
  • Warm liquids like milk or tea can help relax your body, and specific herbs like chamomile or valerian root can actually act as a light tranquilizer.

Of course, you want to avoid drinking or eating right before bed as digestion can signal wakefulness to your body. Instead, try to eat these sleep promoting foods at least an hour or two before you go to sleep.

Reduce Your Stress

This is a lot easier said than done, but stress is one of the biggest reasons many adults suffer from insomnia. Although you can’t get rid of stress completely, you can find better ways to deal with it. Some ideas include:

  • Keeping a journal to record your worries,
  • Splurging on a massage,
  • Practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation,
  • Spending time with loved ones.

While these tips won’t help you get rid of stress completely, they can help you make it more manageable.

Getting enough sleep is important for people of all ages. Sleep deprivation is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and even neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

If you’re constantly having issues going to sleep, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor to see it if might be a health-related issue.

What tips do you have for getting a good night’s sleep? Are there certain foods that help you relax in your bed? We’d love to hear your ideas! Let’s move the conversation to the comment section below!

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