While many people believe that women over 50 require less sleep and thus can stay up late and still wake up before everyone else, this simply isn’t true. This is confirmed by Dr. Daniel A. Barone, assistant neurology professor at Weill Cornell Medical School. However, he does go on to agree that our ability to stay asleep decreases as we age.
The Truth About Sleep
When someone requires 8 hours of sleep when they’re 30, they’ll still require that much sleep when they’re 70. Unfortunately, according to the American Psychological Association about half of older adults suffer from insomnia. This is typically a result of health problems including depression and cardiovascular issues.
The quality of sleep also decreases for women over 50. This is because the body’s ability to produce melatonin (a sleep hormone) starts slowing down. As such, their circadian clock shifts to where it starts sending you to bed early in the evening then waking you up early in the morning regardless of when you want to sleep. How big a shift you experience will vary from one woman to another though.
Another culprit may be your health issues and the medications you’re taking for them. They can make it challenging for you to get sleep because you may find yourself sweating, running to the bathroom, or unable to get comfortable because you’re in pain. When this happens, you aren’t as likely to fall into a deep sleep so your brain can’t rebalance itself and thus, you’re not awake as long as you were in the past.
Tips for Getting Better Sleep
Although sleep is oftentimes elusive for women over 50, there are some things you can do to improve upon it. This includes:
- Make sure you adhere to a sleep schedule even though you may feel no need to do so. If you’re struggling with this, it might be because you’re not getting enough natural light. For this you should either get outside early in the morning or have a light prescribed to you.
- Exercising in the morning will help you enjoy a deeper sleep while engaging in some afternoon activity will help reduce insomnia. Never exercise close to bedtime though because this will raise your heart rate and body temperature, making it harder for you to fall and remain asleep at night. For similar reasons, you should avoid any alcohol or caffeine near bed time.
- To prevent making multiple trips to the bathroom every night, make sure you don’t drink anything two hours before going to bed.
- If you find that having a snack at bedtime helps you sleep better, make sure you don’t overindulge, or this could result in indigestion that keeps you up all night.
- Taking a warm bath before you go to bed will help relax your sore muscles. However, it’s important for you to keep your bedroom’s temperature cool because heat will inhibit your sleep.
- Try to stay off your smartphone or pad device while you’re in bed. Using electronic devices before bedtime can be physiologically and psychologically stimulating in ways that can adversely affect your sleep. The more electronic devices that a person uses in the evening, the harder it is to fall asleep or stay asleep.
When you try these things and find that they aren’t working for you, maybe it’s time you should consider seeing a sleep professional. It’s possible that your sleep issues are a sign of a much bigger health issue such as sleep apnea. By talking to a sleep specialist you’ll be able to discover if there are any underlying issues. Your sleep specialist may also recommend that you take a medication such as melatonin, which is an over-the-counter supplement that could help you sleep better.
Another specialist women over 50 should see is a hearing health professional. They will help keep your hearing health at its best. If you live in or around Clearwater, FL give Countryside Hearing Aid Services a call today.
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