Sleep - Everything You Need to Know to Get a Good Night’s Rest

A good night’s sleep is vital in order to be refreshed and productive during the day. Not only can a poor sleep routine lead to motivation issues, it can also severely impact your health.

It used to be a common belief that you need less sleep as you get older. Not so according to an article written by Anna J. Scovelle; PhD candidate at the Monash Sleep and Circadian Medicine Laboratory, “People need as much sleep as they get older as they did when they were younger, but getting this sleep can become more difficult with age.”

Common sleep problems that trouble Australians over 50 include light sleep, an increase of wakefulness during the night, and daytime fatigue. Sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnoea and periodic limb movements disorder (PLMD) are also increasingly common with age. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 40% of older adults experience insomnia, and at least 25% have either sleep apnoea or PLMD.

Regardless of the cause of sleep difficulties, a lack of quantity and quality of sleep can have significant consequences. Insufficient sleep is associated with difficulty paying attention, trouble making memories, and a decline in other cognitive functions that are important for day-to-day life. Prolonged insufficient sleep is associated with poorer physical and mental health that can increase the risk of many health conditions common in over 50s. While some sleep changes experienced with age are beyond control, there are small lifestyle changes that can be made to maximise sleep.

Here are some practical tips:

  • Set a bedtime routine: You can improve your sleep routine by setting a definite time to retire every night. As your body becomes accustomed to the routine, you will notice a distinct difference in your ability to go to sleep restfully.
  • Be physically active: Allocate a portion of your waking hours for walking, jogging or any physical activity. In fact, walking whenever possible should be incorporated into your daily exercise routine.
  • Create an environment for sleep: Avoid using electronics (i.e. computers, iPads, mobile phones) in the bedroom or in the couple of hours before going to sleep.
  • Cut caffeine intake: Scientists have proven that caffeine keeps us awake and prevents sound sleep. Cut your caffeine intake during the day and sleep better at night.
  • Pay attention to your diet: Eating nutrient-rich foods and heart healthy fats can contribute to a great night’s sleep. Fruit is an excellent food that can help you get to sleep faster as it contains minerals that help relax your muscles.
  • Reduce Your Stress: If you have too much on your mind when you’re going to bed, you’re not going to have a good night’s sleep. Prioritising what’s most important and delegating if you need to will help clear your mind.

If you continue to experience problems with your sleep, it is strongly recommended that you discuss this with a healthcare provider.

Australian Over 50s Living & Lifestyle Guide

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