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Welcome to The Maris Practice Blog. Here you will find musings, reflections and information about best practice in alternative therapies. We hope you find it useful and interesting.

Ways to improve sleep quality as you age

older

Older people often say they have trouble sleeping, and approximately 50% reporting sleep disturbance or have insomnia.

Commonly two main difficulties are stated:

  1. falling asleep at the start of the night,
  2. waking up too early and finding it impossible to get back to sleep.

Occasionally, medical conditions exacerbate sleep difficulties. However, many people find that even without any physical symptoms, sleep still eludes them for parts of the night.

A lack of good quality sleep not only impacts on our sense of well-being but also affects our immune system, causes daytime sleepiness and increases our risk of accidents.

While less sleep is needed as we get older, poor quality of our sleep is more damaging than the duration (or not!) of sleeping.

A recent review: “Sleep and Human Aging” by the University of California, says older people have unhealthy sleep due to age-related physiological changes. These changes can begin as early as our 30s.

A cycle emerges where the older we get, the more our ability for restorative sleep erodes, which then speeds up the aging process.

It is generally accepted that people in middle age and older, sleep about 1 hour less per night due to biological changes. The sleep loss is considered natural and not unhealthy, although people also spend less time in deep non-REM sleep which needed for memory consolidation. Non-REM sleep restores people, mentally and physiologically. However, restorative sleep tends to decline with age.

Getting older doesn’t mean restless sleep for the rest of your life though.

While you may not be able to change the way your natural sleep rhythms and tendencies have shifted, you can try many simple techniques to limit disruptors and improve your quality of sleep.

A healthy lifestyle of a balanced diet, regular exercise and ability to manage stress can help.

Here are a few helpful suggestions:

  • Avoid daytime naps or limit them to 30 minutes,
  • Avoiding stimulants (caffeine and nicotine) close to bedtime,
  • Avoid rich foods, fatty/fried meals, spicy dishes, citrus fruits and carbonated drinks before bed
  • Make lunch your ‘big’ meal,
  • Get plenty of natural light during the day, (helps maintain a sleep-wake cycle),
  • Establish a relaxing, regular bedtime routine,
  • Make sure your room is dark, black out curtains or a sleep mask may help.

It’s important to address your disturbed sleep and take charge, otherwise over time it can contributes to depression, attention and memory problems, difficulty carry out daily tasks less interest in activities and generally a poorer quality of life.

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