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Share to Pinterest10 Ways to Improve Your Sleep as You Get Older
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10 Ways to Improve Your Sleep as You Get Older

By Staff Writer
Share to Pinterest10 Ways to Improve Your Sleep as You Get Older

Your sleep habits are bound to change as you get older, and it's not necessarily going to get easier to get the sleep that you need. As people age, it takes more work to make sure you can sleep well and wake up feeling refreshed. Fortunately, as odd as it might feel for somebody who's still under 40 to plan ahead to get a good night's sleep, it'll happen eventually and there are several ways to make sure it all works for you.


Stick to a regular schedule

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Sticking to a regular schedule is one of the most important things you can do to make sure you get to sleep on time and stay asleep through the night. If you're not on a regular timetable for sleep, your whole daily cycle can get mixed up. This isn't a huge problem when you're 25, but as you get older, your body will get more and more used to having things a certain way.

It's not terribly important what time you set for bedtime, but it is a good idea to always get to bed within about half an hour of whatever time you've settled into.


Stay out of the bedroom until bedtime

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Beds are for sleeping, not eating or playing video games. Nobody is 100% sure why a few hours spent lounging on the bed and reading a book has the potential to cause nighttime restlessness, but there are theories. One of the most promising is that your mind–body system starts associating the bed with things other than sleep, so when you do lie down, you're sending confusing signals to your brain, which thinks it's time to watch TV or read.


Quit or reduce caffeine

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Caffeine is the most widely consumed stimulant drug in the world, and there's a fair chance you developed a taste for it at some point in adulthood. Whether you're into coffee or you fancy a spot of tea, you probably already know the latest you can enjoy a cuppa without it keeping you up half the night.

If sticking to that deadline or quitting coffee completely doesn't help, take a look at what else you consume during the day. Lots of things have caffeine, including headache medicine, chocolate, and other odds and ends. Most people don't have to entirely cut out all caffeinated products, aim to keep them to the first half or so of the day.


Quit smoking

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It's news to no one that smoking doesn't do anything good for your body,  but did you know it can actually lead to insomnia? Tobacco is not strictly a stimulant in the way caffeine is, but under some circumstances, it can have that effect.

While your doctor will almost certainly have lots of extremely good reasons for you to stop smoking, the potential for all forms of tobacco to disrupt your sleep might just be the one that sticks for you.


Mind your alcohol consumption

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People think of alcohol as a sleepytime drug, and in a way, it is. However, even a depressant can keep you up late at night. It's not entirely clear how this works, but the going theory is that the depressant effects of alcohol disrupt your body's natural sleep/wake routines and jar you out of getting the right amount—and deep enough—sleep.


Limit your use of sleeping pills

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Sleeping pills can act in a similar way to alcohol, in that they're a depressant that can paradoxically keep you awake all hours. This doesn't happen as you're using them, of course, but when you quit or taper down to a smaller dose, your body tells you that it's grown dependent on the medication to know when it's time to sleep and can't get there without the drug.

If you needed to take sleeping pills and are planning to stop, talk to a doctor about how best to wean your body off them.


Limit your daytime napping

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The more you sleep during the day, the less you'll feel like you need to at night, when your circadian rhythm is asking for it. When we're young, we tend to balk at nap time, but they sure start to look good again as we get into the hectic workdays and endless chores so common in mid-adulthood.

A nap can feel great, and they can even be wholly beneficial to your health, but be sure to keep them short, and avoid taking them too late in the day.


Don't force it

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Just about the worst thing you can do when sleep just isn't happening for you is to try to brute-force it. Don't struggle against insomnia. If you lie down at night and can't get to sleep within about 20 minutes (or whatever your normal is), you may just not be tired enough.

There are probably some lifestyle factors to consider, but you can't fix them at that exact moment. Instead, read a book on the couch til your eyelids begin to droop, or practice some deep breathing or other tricks that have worked for you in the past. Try to avoid watching TV or staring at your phone, since the blue light can confuse your brain even further.


Keep a regular exercise schedule

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Exercise is good for our overall health, so it follows that it would be beneficial to sleep, as well. Around 30 minutes of movement every day—whether that's a walk, a jog, yoga, or a strength workout—keeps that heart and cardiovascular system healthy, makes sure your muscles and bones are staying strong, and helps ensure your brain and body stay on track for feeling sleepy at night and bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning.


Control the climate

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For most of us, sleep happens best in a dark, cool, comfortable location. If you're finding zzz's harder to come by lately, take a look at your environment. Make sure the lights are out (in the hallway, too), crack the window or turn on a fan (just don't point it right at your face), and consider blackout curtains or a sleep mask.

If this or any of these tips and tricks don't cut it and you're still finding yourself consistently short on proper rest, go see a doctor. There could be something outside your control causing the problem.



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