If you’re in your 50s or beyond, and you expect that you should be sleeping as soundly as you did in your 20s and 30s, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
Why? Our sleep patterns naturally change as we get older. For one thing, the amount of deep, restorative sleep we get gradually decreases. That means we spend more time in a lighter stage of sleep, which can be more easily interrupted.
Consequently, if we want to feel well-rested, we need to start paying more attention to the things we can do to maximize the quality of the sleep we do get each night.
You know those lists of ‘sleep hygiene’ tips that you’ve probably pooh-poohed? Things like getting up at the same time every day, and curbing your caffeine intake, particularly before midday?
Singly, they may not make an enormous difference in your sleep quality. But combined, they may well do so if you can incorporate them into your nighttime routine long-term.
Reviewing any medications that you’re taking to see whether any could potentially be affecting your sleep can be helpful, too.
To learn more about what you can do to get a good night’s rest, read my latest Good Times health feature: ‘Get a Better Quality of Sleep’.
My heartfelt thanks to the interviewees who so generously shared their time, stories and expertise:
- Dr. Elliott Lee, a sleep specialist at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, and an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Ottawa.
- Dr. Samir Sinha, director of geriatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital and UHN Hospitals; expert lead of Ontario’s Seniors Strategy, and an assistant professor in both the Department of Medicine, Family and Community Medicine, and the Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation at the University of Toronto.
- Teresa Pitman, a friend, and author and co-author of several books, including The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers (with Jack Newman, MD).
- Sleep On It Canada
- Sleeping as We Age (Sinai Geriatrics)
Photo courtesy of Pixabay