Getting an adequate amount of sleep and treating sleep problems, such as snoring and apnea, has been shown to decrease the risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, heart attacks, heart failure, strokes, arthritis and even cancer. Most adults need 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night to feel fully alert during the day. This is usually true for people age 65 and older as well. But, as we get older, we might have more trouble sleeping.
Many things can get in the way of sleeping well or sleeping long enough to feel fully rested. Older adults might get sleepy earlier in the evening. Older adults may have insomnia, which makes it hard to fall asleep when going to bed or staying asleep all night. They might wake up very early in the morning and not be able to go back to sleep.
Some causes of sleep problems include:
- Lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking alcohol or caffeinated drinks
- As we age our bodies make less of the chemicals and hormones that help us sleep well (growth hormone and melatonin.)
- Some medications can keep people awake
- Lack of physical activity
What can you do to sleep better?
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
- Don’t read, snack, or watch TV in bed.
- Avoid caffeine about 8 hours before bedtime.
- Avoid nicotine and alcohol in the event.
- Don’t take naps longer than about 20 minutes.
- Try and exercise or be physically active every day.
- Ask your provider if any of the medicines you are taking could be keeping you awake at night.