As we age we are faced with many different obstacles, one of them is sleep. Sleep is just as important to our physical and emotional health over the age of 50 as it was when we were younger.
Improve Concentration and Memory and Help Prevent Disease
Sleep is especially important because it helps improve concentration and memory formation, allows your body to repair any cell damage that occurred during the day, and refreshes your immune system, which in turn helps to prevent disease. Older adults who don’t sleep well are more likely to suffer from depression, attention and memory problems, and excessive daytime sleepiness.
Sleep Needs Don’t Decline with Age
Changes to our sleep patterns are a normal part of growing old, but this doesn’t mean our actual sleep needs decline with age. As people age they can start to find falling asleep a lot more difficult than when they were younger but our actual sleep needs remain constant right through adulthood.
What’s Keeping You Awake?
As we age changes in our sleep patterns occur. These changes can mean we start to develop some sleep problems. As the sleep cycle moves from light to deep to REM sleep for most people, older people can tend to spend more time in those lighter stages and as a result wake up tired or feel more tired throughout the day. There are also many concerns of aging that cause further sleep related problems, things like anxiety and medication can cause insomnia. Whilst things like arthritis and frequent urination can also affect sleep significantly.
What’s Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome?
As adults age a thing known as ‘sleep phase syndrome’ sets in and causes the body’s internal clock to adjust to earlier bed and wakeup times. Older people tend to become sleepier in the early evening and wake earlier in the morning compared to younger adults. Whilst the exact reason for this is largely unknown many people believe it has to do with light exposure.
How to Sleep Better No Matter Your Age
If you want to sleep better there are a range of things that can help. It is important you improve your daytime habits, this includes being more engaged, getting involved in social activities, spending time with family and friends and staying active no matter how small the movement. Things like volunteering, joining a local community group and taking a new class can all help you be stimulated in body and mind and help you get a better sleep at night. These activities mean you will see more sunlight that can help regulate your body clock and all these things help improve your mood, and a more positive and happy mind can increase your likelihood of sleeping better.
(Photo courtesy of www.juniper.org.au)