Our sleep patterns change as we age.
Newborns, for example, sleep for almost 19 hours a day because they need that kind of sleep. Though our exhausted self would argue that we too, deserve 19 hours of undisturbed sleep, the truth is our body doesn’t need that.
Adults sleep for about six to eight hours, but as we age, there is a decline in that number. Menopause, for example, is known to cause insomnia. Also, as we age, we might need to take certain medications, which negatively affect our sleep.
As such, it becomes very crucial to develop a sleep routine that helps us sleep better, and therefore, age better. With better sleep, research says, you can even keep a serious illness like Alzheimer’s at bay. Good sleep can lower high blood pressure. It keeps your skin glowing and your heart beating well. If these aren’t reasons enough to improve sleep as you age, then what reasons would convince you?
Sleep and Age: Tips on how to sleep better to age better
- No devices an hour before sleep
Exposure to the blue light of screens at night hampers sleep.
This is because our brain is tricked into believing that it is still daytime. As a result, we are forced by the natural functioning of our body to stay awake and alert. It suppresses the production of melatonin, thus keeping us from closing our eyes. Our circadian rhythm is adversely affected, and as a result of this, we lose sleep.
Not using any device an hour before sleep can up your sleep game like never before. Don’t believe us? Try it for yourself.
- Meditation to calm the mind
So if you don’t glue your eyes to a device, then what do you do for that one hour before sleep? The answer is meditation.
Lie down and close your eyes. Take a few moments to get comfortable. Now bring your attention to your breathing. Observe how breath enters your body and leaves it through the nose. If you want, then you can even bring your attention to your navel as a form of contemplation.
For people who have never meditated, starting this nighttime ritual might be slightly difficult. To ease yourself into this new way of sleep, we have a little trick. With each breath, count in your mind. Once you reach 10, start from one all over again. This will help you keep thoughts away.
- Take a bath
Different people have different sleep routines depending on their individual needs and preferences.
Some find taking a warm shower before sleep very relaxing. The drop in the body temperature soothes the nerves and causes drowsiness. Taking a bath an hour before sleep helps the natural circadian process, thus improving sleep.
- No heavy food before sleep
Eating a heavy meal before sleep can cause discomfort, which in turn, hampers sleep.
To that end, avoiding high-carb meals at night is a great idea. Though high-carbs make you drowsy and fall asleep fast, the quality of sleep you get is terrible. Try high-fat meals instead, which improve your sleep quality.
Also, have your dinner at least three hours before you hit the bed. This will give your body enough time to digest it, thus ensuring there is no discomfort felt during the night.
- Light exercises during the day
As we grow older, the physical activities we engage in begin to get lesser by the day. In such a situation, including some light exercises into your routine becomes vital.
Exercise increases the duration of sleep. It is also known to improve the sleep quality. Try moderate exercises in the morning, and light stretches in the evening.
Working out helps produce more serotonin (the happy hormone), and reduces levels of cortisol, a hormone known to cause stress.
Doing heavy exercises in the second half of the day can hamper sleep by causing extreme exhaustion.
Don’t wait until you reach 60 to develop these sleep routines. Start early so that you can reap the benefits when you reach the latter part of your life.