We all need sleep, but as we age, how much sleep we need changes.
Young children may need to spend half of the day sleeping, but as we become adults, that drops to a third. And that doesn’t change as we enter old age. Yet, despite needing as much sleep as younger adults, older adults remain more tired.
One reasons older adults might be tired is that the have a more difficult time falling asleep. In fact, a University of Wisconsin study found that 13% of men and 36% of women over 65 take over 30 minutes to fall asleep.
Also, as we age, we experience less deep sleep during the night, which can affect our energy levels during the day and may explain why older adults frequently nap.
So what can we do?
Here are 7 tips to help you improve your bedtime routine and increase your chances of better sleep:
- Get up at the same time every morning. Don’t sleep in. Even if you have a bad night’s sleep, you’ll be sleepy at bedtime that night and it’ll be easier to get to sleep.
- Don’t worry. Don’t watch TV, read scary books, or do other things in bed besides sleeping. If you worry, read thrillers, or watch TV, don’t do it in the bedroom or in a bed.
- Keep your room dark. Keep electronic devices out of your room and make sure your window coverings completely cover your window. A dark room will help you sleep better.
- Avoid screen time. Put away your phone, tablet, laptop, or other electronic device early enough to give your body time to wind down. The blue light emitted by these devices stimulates your mind, which can interfere with sleep. Consider winding down with a relaxing book instead.
- Do not drink or eat anything caffeinated within 6 hours of bedtime.
- Avoid alcohol. Although it may relax you at first, you’ll wake up when it clears your system — and this can happen in the middle of the night.
- Spend time outdoors during the day. People exposed to daylight or bright light therapy sleep better.
Follow these steps and see if your sleep habits improve.