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  • Writer's pictureNatalie M

Over 65? Sleep well, age well.

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

woman sleeping

Sleep plays a crucial role in overall health and well-being, and its importance becomes even more pronounced as individuals age. You may be experiencing difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up earlier than desired. These changes are often attributed to natural shifts in circadian rhythms, medical conditions, medications, or lifestyle factors.

As we age, we also become more prone to certain sleep disorders, such as insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and periodic limb movement disorder. These conditions can significantly impact sleep quality. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality can have a negative impact on various aspects of our health. They often lead to daytime drowsiness, decreased cognitive function, memory problems, mood disturbances, increased risk of falls, and compromised immune function. Poor sleep has also been associated with an increased risk of chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.

There are some important things you can do to help ensure you are getting enough good, quality sleep:

  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This helps regulate your body's internal clock and promotes a consistent sleep pattern.

  • Create a comfortable sleep environment. Keep your room cool, dark, and quiet. If necessary, use blackout curtains, earplugs, or a white noise machine.

  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine close to bedtime. Stay away from spicy foods and nicotine, and watch your consumption of liquids to minimize trips to the bathroom during the night.

  • Limit your exposure to electronic devices for at least an hour before you go to bed. The blue light emitted by smartphones, tablets, and computers can interfere with sleep. If you must use them, consider using blue light filters or wearing blue light-blocking glasses.

  • Establish a pre-sleep routine that signals your body that it is time to wind down. This could include activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, doing some gentle stretches, or listening to calming music.

  • Talk to your doctor to discuss concerns you have about how your medications might be affecting your sleep quality to determine what options you might have.

woman talking to her female doctor

If you are experiencing persistent sleep problems or suspect a sleep disorder, it's important to seek professional help. Usually, your primary care physician is the best place to start. Your doctor can assess your symptoms, provide initial guidance, and refer you to specialists if necessary. If you are referred, sleep specialists can conduct sleep studies, provide accurate diagnoses, and recommend appropriate treatments to improve sleep quality.

Remember that sleep is an essential component of overall health and well-being. Prioritizing good sleep habits and seeking professional help when needed can greatly contribute to improved health outcomes and quality of life for individuals of any age.

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