Sleeping patterns change as we age, so it is not unusual to find it harder to get enough sleep. This can sometimes make it harder to fall and remain asleep. The following day, you will feel tired and grumpy.
You shouldn’t consider chronic sleep problems as a normal part of the aging process that you have to go through.
How much sleep do you need every night?
Different people require different amounts of sleep, but the average for adults is 7 to 9 hours of sleep. You need to get the same amount of sleep as you age, but it becomes a little harder to stay asleep as you age.
What is insomnia?
People usually have a hard time sleeping from time to time, especially when feeling anxious or stressed. If you find yourself feeling tired all the time, then the lack of sleep becomes a serious problem.
Some common signs of insomnia are:
You find it hard to fall asleep
You keep waking up at night
Waking up early in the morning
Feeling irritable, tired, and finding it hard to concentrate during the day
Insomnia tends to increase with age and it is more common in women compared to men.
Insomnia can be triggered by anxiety, a stressful event, some medications, and health problems.
How does Insomnia affect a person?
Having a bad night’s sleep from time to time is not going to affect you that much, but insomnia can have a big effect on your day-to-day life.
Lack of sleep has been linked with poor performance at work and it affects your mood, which can lead to uses in your relationships. It can also have an effect on appetite, you can start craving unhealthy foods that increase the risk of diseases and makes you gain weight.
Getting poor sleep regularly can increase the risk of health conditions, like diabetes and heart disease. It also has an impact on your mental well-being, which can cause problems like anxiety and depression.
Sleep deprivation can cause accidents and serious injuries that can affect memory. Deep sleep cycles are important because that is when the brain has the chance of consolidating memories.
Because of the above reasons, it is a good idea to visit a GP if you are having a hard time with sleep.
Top tips for sleeping well
Experts have agreed that there are some things you can do to improve your quality of sleep. You need to have good sleep habits in place:
Going to bed and getting up at the same time daily even during the weekends
Avoid lying in
Having a bedtime routine – relax your body by having a bath or reading a book
Sleeping on a comfortable bed and bedding, read this guide to the UK’s best mattresses for 2023
Avoid nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol later in the day
Avoid heavy meals at night
Exercise earlier in the day instead of evening
Keeping your bedroom dark and cool – the best temperature for sleep is about 18 degrees Celsius
Banning TV and devices from the bedroom – they emit blue light that can disrupt your sleep
You shouldn’t nap during the day. If you have to nap, make sure it is at the same time every day
If you wake up at night and find it hard to fall asleep again;
Get up and go to another room after 15-20 minutes. You shouldn’t do anything too involved like housework or any type of work. Don’t turn on the TV because it makes things worse.
You can listen to music or read a book. After 20-30 minutes, go back to bed and see whether you can fall asleep. If you have the same problem, do the same thing again.
Getting help for sleeping problems
If you have sleeping issues that have lasted over a month and the self-help measures aren’t helping, then visit a doctor.
The doctor will try to learn more about your sleeping habits, advise you on what you need to do, and ask you to have a sleep diary.
The doctor can refer you to a psychological practitioner to help with CRT for insomnia. This type of treatment helps by breaking patterns of thoughts and behaviors that may be affecting your sleep and causing insomnia.
For the short term, they can prescribe sleeping tablets that are going to help you get some sleep, but they shouldn’t be used long-term because they don’t address the cause of your insomnia. There is also the risk of getting addicted to these tablets.