When you have trouble sleeping, everything in your life can start to feel… a little off. Sleeping affects your mental health and your physical health in very serious ways, meaning that a good night’s sleep is essential for continued health as you age. Many different things can begin to affect your sleep habits, including pain, trouble breathing, or overheating while you sleep. While these experiences are frustrating, they can typically be helped or treated with some small lifestyle changes. Read on for our tips to fix common sleep problems, and we’ll have you sleeping like a baby soon enough!
Aches and Pains
Waking up with stiff joints or muscle pain is a very common problem that seniors experience. This could be caused by a variety of factors. Arthritis can flare up overnight, causing stiffness and pain in the morning. Similarly, old bed frames and overly used mattresses can create pressure points which can make it difficult to sleep, causing tossing and turning which can result in injury. If this is happening to you, it might be time for a refresh. Investing in a quality mattress with the correct firmness and the right sleep pillow for you can help support your body properly during the night, allowing you to wake up refreshed.
For many older adults, difficulty breathing is a scary problem that causes them to wake up in the night. One of the main causes of this is called sleep apnea, a phenomenon that occurs when the soft palate of the airway relaxes so much that you stop breathing. If you snore loudly or ever wake yourself up unable to breathe, this is probably the reason. Consistent exercise can help to prevent this, or it can be treated with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. Another reason for trouble breathing is bad air quality in the sleep space. Many houses, especially older buildings, have poor ventilation which can cause build up of mold and mildew. This can trigger allergies that make breathing (and sleeping) difficult. A good air purifier can fix this problem quickly, and help you breathe easy again.
Those who live with excessive sweating know how annoying the experience can be. Left untreated, it can affect your social life, be embarrassing, and ruin your clothes and hats. If you wake up with damp clothes or sheets, it might be happening to you at night as well. This type of sweating happens for a few reasons. Menopause causes hot flashes, and certain types of medication can cause night sweating as well. To combat this, lower the thermostat by just a few degrees at night. Also, invest in airy, breathable sheets and comforters. This will allow for more heat to escape as you sleep at night, keeping you cool and comfortable until the morning.
Acid Reflux is another problem which tends to get worse with age. Typically characterized by a burning sensation in the throat or chest, heartburn is its most disruptive at night. Most often, heartburn is uncomfortable but not dangerous. However, if left untreated for a long period of time, it can result in stomach problems such as ulcers. Luckily, acid reflux is easily treated through small changes to your eating and sleeping habits. First, be sure to eat at least 2 hours before bed, so as to allow the food to digest properly. Second, switch up your sleep position. Sleeping at a slight elevation at night will greatly reduce the amount of acid in your esophagus, allowing you to have a healthier, more restorative sleep.
As you age, getting a good night’s sleep becomes more important than ever. Don’t let these common sleep problems stop you from getting the restful sleep that you deserve!