Sleep Advice for the Over 55s

An elderly woman asleep in bed with her partner

Sleep plays a vital role in boosting your overall health at every stage of life. From the moment we are born through to our golden years. The importance of sleep remains the same through every life stage.

As we get older, it’s natural to find it more difficult to fall asleep – or stay asleep.

By adapting our lifestyle and routines, it is possible to improve our sleeping patterns and sleep quality. In this guide, we provide tailored tips and tricks for the over 55s, to potentially help improve sleep quality. We hope you find these tips useful.

Cater to changes in your temperature

It’s common for our body’s temperature to change throughout the time that we sleep. One moment we might find ourselves feeling too hot, whereas at other times, we may be too cold or just right. These fluctuations in temperature can lead to waking up several times throughout the night. That inevitably leaves us feeling uncomfortable and disrupts that much-needed sleep cycle.

There are a number of changes we can make to our sleeping environment to reduce the chances of these changes in temperature, or to lessen the effect of these fluctuations:

  • Keep your bedroom between 16-18℃
  • Invest in a duvet cover made from silk, wool or alpaca – these materials can help to regulate body temperature
  • Make sure your mattress has breathable features or works to regulate body temperature

Work to eradicate or reduce any sleep disorders

Sleep disorders, such as snoring or sleep apnoea, are much more likely to develop as we age. What’s more, they can wreak havoc on how well we or our partner sleeps, leading to countless hours of restlessness.

If you or your partner suffers from a sleep disorder, it’s well worth visiting your GP to discuss possible causes and treatments. They may suggest investing in an adjustable bed, which can reduce the symptoms of a sleep disorder and improve sleep quality for the two of you.
Of course, different adjustable beds have different features, so speak to an expert before making a decision as to which adjustable bed to invest in.

Begin a calming routine during the day

There are numerous elements of our daily lives that can impact how well we sleep. From caffeine too late on in the day, to the thoughts and actions we make immediately before bedtime. By understanding our own daily routine and what could be causal factors of our bad nights of sleep, we can tailor our routine to one that’s more calming in the run up to your bedtime. A prime example is to avoid thinking about or discussing matters that worry you before bedtime.

A few common routine changes that many over 55s make are:

  • No calling, texting or emailing at least an hour before bedtime
  • No use of mobile phones, tablets, laptops or TVs at least an hour before bedtime
  • No eating during the 2-hour run up to your dedicated bedtime
  • Avoid having hot baths during the run up to bedtime
  • Finishing the day with something relaxing, such as reading a book or knitting
  • Cutting caffeine out from 3pm onwards
  • Fitting in 30 minutes of enjoyable exercise each day

Each of these changes will help you to relax later on in the evening, whilst preventing your mind from being overly stimulated when you’re trying to get to sleep.

Physically calm yourself at the end of the day

Many find that taking the time to physically create a sense of calm can greatly improve sleep quality over time. It’s very easy to do and takes very little time at all. It only takes is a short and simple breathing technique, carried out at the end of every day:

  • Breathe in slowly for four seconds
  • Hold your breath for seven seconds
  • Breathe out slowly but heavily for eight seconds

NB – This should only be tried if our lung capacity can cope with the exercise.

Develop your solid sleeping routine

Everyone is different and whilst some might find it easier to sleep at a later time, others might find it easier to wake at an earlier hour. It’s all about knowing how your own mind and body prefers to react to sleep – from there, you can develop a sleeping routine to complement your natural habits.

If you know that you typically tend to wake up earlier, it makes sense to try to get to bed early enough so that you can guarantee yourself eight hours of rest and recuperation. Likewise, if you’re more likely to fall asleep at a later hour, you’ll need to make sure you wake up after eight hours sleep, rather than sleeping in for too long.

Once you have your bedtime and wake up time noted, you’ll need to think about environmental factors mentioned earlier in the guide. Then consider setting your sleeping environment to a temperature conducive for sleeping in.

You can also make a plan for what times throughout the day to stop drinking caffeine, stop eating and to stop using technology, based on when your bedtime is. The same can also be done to plan in exercise, planning a relaxing activity and trying a calming breathing routine at the right times throughout the day.

We hope that you will see how all of the tips within this guide interlink, to help create a much better lifestyle, routine and environment to aid restful sleep. This guide offers long-term advice and you’ll find that the changes to your sleep quality won’t happen overnight. So, stick with it and in a month or so, you should see your sleep improve to the same quality that you enjoyed at a younger age.

Also consider replacing your current bed with a quality adjustable version. Our advisors are happy to help explain the benefits of UK-built Comfomatic adjustable beds. Simply fill out the form here. Sleep well!

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