7 Tips to Get Better Sleep as You Age

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Man napping in hammock with book over face
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Let's face it: As we age getting seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep seems almost impossible. The body changes and sleep patterns change as well. Seniors seems to need less, but this can be detrimental to health. Older folks experience more interrupted sleep and don't spend as much time in REM sleep, which is where the deepest and most restorative rest comes from.

Getting enough rest is super important for the body's ability to recover, repair, and stay healthy. It keeps our metabolism firing and helps to fight stress. It is also important for emotional balance.

Here are my top seven tips on how to get enough sleep as you age, so that you can feel energetic and live optimally through your senior years.

Build Routine


Going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning will help your body regulate. Oftentimes, seniors will either stay up much later than needed and then still continue to wake up very early. This can throw off the body's natural clock and prevent you from going into the deeper REM phases of sleep.

Make a commitment to wind down before bed by engaging in stress relieving activities (see Tip 5)

Skip the Naps


Oftentimes seniors will take cat naps throughout the day. This can prevent a good night's sleep from happening. If you feel tired in the middle of the day, instead of napping, get up and move your body. Go for a walk around the block, do some gardening, or make a cup of tea.

Another awesome activity is to volunteer and be of service, so that you are out in the world moving your body and helping others, which will help to create an overall sense of well-being and more restful sleep.

Avoid Caffeine after 10 a.m.


Drinking caffeine any time after the morning hours can affect your sleep. Caffeine stays in the body for up to 12 hours, so if you are super sensitive, it could be a culprit of sleep interruption. It also contributes to osteoporosis and bone loss.

Have a calming cup of herbal tea before bed, or make some Golden Milk, which is a traditional elixir used in India for inducing sleep and fighting inflammation. Double winner! Not only will you sleep better, your joints will be happy, too.

Exercise Daily but Not Too Close to Bedtime


Exercising at least 20 minutes each day is important for getting beneficial sleep, but be sure not to exercise too close to bedtime, unless you are doing light stretching or gentle yoga.

More strenuous exercise can stimulate the endocrine system and release endorphins that may prevent sleep.

Wind Down and Unplug


Just like routine is important when it comes to good sleep, it's also helpful to give yourself some wind downtime before bed. This includes unplugging from all "blue light" electronics at least an hour or more before your bedtime.

The blue light from electronics stimulates the pineal gland, which is responsible for producing melatonin, the hormone that helps us sleep. If your pineal gland is on overdrive all the time, your body will not produce the proper amount of melatonin and your sleep will be affected.

Do some light reading, deep breathing, crossword puzzles, or a creative activity that doesn't require too much brain power. This will give your body time to wind down and transition slowly into sleep mode.

Check Your Medications


Sometimes medication can be a culprit in messing with your zzz's. If you feel like this may be the case, talk with your doctor about side effects of any medication you are on, and see if you can lower doses or switch to a different medication.

Adding the supplement melatonin each evening before you go to bed can also help support your sleep cycle. But be sure you consult with your physician first if you are on any medication.

Clean Up Your Diet


Eating clean is not only important for good energy, feeling healthy, and living a preventative life; it supports good sleep, too.

When we sleep too little our body over-produces a hormone called ghrelin which signals the body to eat more, especially carbohydrate-rich foods. In turn, lack of sleep depletes the hormone leptin, which is responsible for telling us when we are full.

Cutting sugary foods and processed foods to a minimum and eating more high-nutrient foods like vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbs will help your sleep regulate. Also, be sure to drink plenty of water and cut back on caffeine as mentioned in Tip 3.

Better Sleep, Happier You!


Once you start to get more quality sleep you will feel more energetic and happier, so you can continue to engage in all the things you love about life!

Begin to follow these simple tips and see how your sleep starts to change and transform — Happy Zzz'ing!

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