As you grow older, you might find it harder to fall asleep or that you’re more likely to wake up during the night. Some people find that as they age, they tend to feel sleepy and go to bed earlier, but get up earlier in the morning too.
During deep sleep, the brain is washed by rhythmic, pulsating waves of spinal fluid that clean away accumulated waste, helping to protect you from Alzheimer’s disease. Sleep also helps to protect you from, cardiovascular disease, anxiety, depression and obesity. Lighter sleep means missing out on factors that help cell regeneration and tissue growth, strengthen the immune system and support short and long-term memory.
How much is enough sleep?
You might be tempted to use an activity tracker to discover how much sleep you’re getting. However, they’re not always accurate and measurements can become a source of anxiety.
It’s not just the amount of time you spend asleep that’s important. Quality matters. Each cycle of light, deep and dreaming sleep takes about 90 minutes and your sleep becomes progressively deeper through the night. Rather than focusing on a number of hours, the right amount of sleep for you is enough for you to feel refreshed when you wake up in the morning. No activity tracker can tell you that.
Tips for better sleep
- Get out in the daylight early in the day
- Keep a consistent bedtime and wake up time, even at the weekend or if you feel that you slept badly
- Aim to keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet
- Experiment with a heavy blanket (so long as you don’t have conditions that make breathing difficult) – read more about this below!
- Slow, relaxing music can help you drop off
- Blue light disrupts your sleep/wake cycle. Dim room lights and put technology away at least an hour before bedtime
- Cooling down after a warm shower or bath helps you to feel sleepy
- Drink wisely. Cut caffeine out after lunch and try to avoid alcohol
- Camomile tea can help you sleep. Avoid drinking too close to bedtime to prevent a nocturnal toilet trip
- Eat a kiwi fruit to feed your friendly gut bacteria or take a probiotic drink - find out why below!
Snug as a bug
In the days before duvets do you remember waking up with a sense of peace and calm? Research shows that the weight of wool blankets is a kind of Deep Pressure Stimulation. This sort of firm but gentle ‘hug’ relaxes your nervous system and reduces stress hormones.
Eat your way to better sleep
Your gut contains trillions of beneficial bacteria and micro-organisms called your ‘microbiome’. A diverse microbiome is linked to better sleep. Studies show that feeding good bacteria with prebiotics like vegetables or fruit, or taking good bacteria can improve the quality of your sleep.