How your sleep changes with the years – and how to deal with it

How your sleep changes with the years – and how to deal with it

Whether it’s hormone fluctuations or the stress of caring for relatives, as you get older a good night’s sleep can seem like a distant memory. But these tips could make a big difference to the quality of your shut-eye.

Whether it’s hormone fluctuations or the stress of caring for relatives, as you get older a good night’s sleep can seem like a distant memory. But these tips could make a big difference to the quality of your shut-eye.

There’s nothing better than the feeling of slipping between clean, fresh-smelling sheets. But what if, once you’re there, you can’t nod off, or you know you’re going to wake up at 4am and start worrying about everything in your life?

As you get older, all sorts of things begin to affect your sleep. Sure, you might not need to get up every couple of hours to feed a baby or keep a toddler entertained any more, but you can have plenty of other challenges – from work, health and family worries to hormone changes. For a start, your oestrogen and progesterone levels could be all over the place, having a dramatic effect on your sleep.

Some things will probably only be solved with time or even medical intervention (hello perimenopause!), but you can at least make sure your mind is rested, even if your body doesn’t comply. And there are plenty of other easy fixes that could make all the difference.

1. Sort out your temperature

If you share your bed, you might find you have a totally different comfort level to your partner – especially if you’re having night sweats thanks to those pesky hormones. But there are steps you can take to mitigate this.

Firstly, the room temperature: the Sleep Council recommends a bedroom of 16-18°C. Then you can look at a duvet that splits down the middle, so you can have different togs each side. Also choose your pyjamas well, so you’re wearing breathable cotton.

And finally, if you have a spare room from the kids leaving home, it might be worth making the bed, so at least if you wake up in the middle of the night, you can sneak out and read your book until you drop off again!

2. Switch off your devices

The biggest change to our lives over the last few years is the introduction of smartphones, e-readers, tablets and other screens – and the blue light they emit is terrible for our sleep, as it interferes with the release of melatonin, the sleep hormone. So at least an hour before bed, make sure you switch off any screens, and try to resist taking them into your bedroom with you.

3. Make sure your sheets are Lenor-fresh

Making bedtime more appealing is key to getting your shut-eye earlier. Scent can play an important part in relaxing you to help you drift off, so keep your sheets fresh for longer by adding a dose of Lenor to your wash. The gorgeously scented fabric conditioner will give you that fresh-sheets feeling for up to a week after you’ve washed them – night after night after night!

Also, when buying sheets, go for natural materials such as linen or cotton, rather than synthetics. Not only do they feel better, but they are more breathable, helping your body temperature remain steady.

4. Don’t eat spicy or acidic foods at night

If you suffer from heartburn, bedtime is when you’re most likely to experience it, and spicy or acidic food – or alcohol – can be a major culprit. If you do find this a problem, it’s worth having some antacids in your bedside table so you don’t have to get out of bed to treat it.

5. Get a dawn light

Part of sleeping well is waking well, and if you are shocked out of slumber by a loud alarm, you can feel groggy all day. So consider getting a dawn light for the darker months. It will gradually wake you by slowly increasing the light in the room, so you awaken naturally rather than dramatically, and you’re less likely to hit the snooze button!

6. Meditate before bed

If you’ve been rushing around all day, and you’re stressed from work or looking after an elderly parent, your head might be all over the place when it comes to bedtime. Rather than relaxing with a glass of wine or four, find a healthier way to bring calm to your life. If you have time, a nice long bath can help, or a restorative yoga session.

But let’s get real: you probably want to get to bed asap! So make like a millennial and download a meditation app. Spending just three-to-five minutes giving yourself some mindful time can make a huge difference to your state of mind. Remember: be kind to yourself.

7. Exercise during the day

Research has shown that just 10 minutes of aerobic exercise a day isn’t just good for your heart – it can dramatically improve the length and quality of sleep too. Whether you prefer morning or evening exercise depends on you. Some people find exercising before bed gets them too pumped up, so test out a few times of day to discover what works best for you.

8. Cut down on caffeine and alcohol

There’s nothing like a nice cup of tea or coffee after dinner – but caffeinated stimulants are designed to wake you up, so it makes sense that they could disrupt your sleep. But if you think the alternative is a nightcap, think again – while alcohol might help you get to sleep, it can also cause you to spend more time in REM sleep and less in deep sleep, so you feel tired when you wake. Not only that, but alcohol and coffee are diuretics, so you could end up waking in the middle of the night to go to the loo – which can already be a problem as you get older!

9. Sort out your bedroom

It’s not just the place where your bed is: your bedroom should also be calming and conducive to sleep. Ways to achieve this include making sure it’s tidy, as mess can stress; having dimmer lights so you can lower the lighting before bed; making sure there are no lights from electronics blinking away in the dark (such as alarm clocks, phones or thermostats); and installing blackout curtains or blinds, to make sure you’re not woken by streetlights or an early dawn. This is especially helpful for shift workers.

10. Try a melatonin supplement

If you’re really having problems, there is lots of research to suggest a melatonin supplement can help reset your circadian rhythm (aka body clock). Don’t be tempted to buy your supplement online – you don’t know exactly what you’re getting, and you need to make sure the dose and time of day are right. Just pop to your GP and they should be able to sort out the correct treatment for you. If you’re having hormonal issues thanks to menopause or perimenopause, it’s worth mentioning this to the doctor too, in case they can help.

11. Eliminate daytime naps

It can be so tempting to nap in the day or in front of the TV, but it can cause problems with your night-time sleeping. If you really do need a power nap, make sure it’s less than 20 minutes to avoid going into deep sleep and disrupting your body clock.

12. Upgrade your bed and mattress

It might feel like an expensive purchase, but the right mattress can make all the difference, preventing aches and pains overnight, and helping you get a solid night’s sleep. So how often should you change your mattress? Well, it depends on the mattress – by and large, the cheaper the mattress, the more frequently you’ll need to change it.

The National Bed Federation recommends changing it every seven years – pointing out that by then it has been subjected to more than 20,000 hours of wear and tear, not to mention half a pint of fluid we lose each night, and a pound of dead skin cells in a year! But a topper, a mattress protector and a double-sided mattress can help extend its life. Once you start seeing permanent sagging and getting aches and pains, though, it’s probably time to take the plunge.

13. Keep a sleep diary

You might have made lots of changes already but still be having problems. Keeping a sleep diary can help you identify any anomalies or other parts of your routine that might be messing with your body clock.

So for two weeks, try to note down things like the time you go to bed and get up, how easily you fell asleep, what time you ate beforehand, whether you’ve exercised that day and at what time, whether your sleep was disturbed, any other changes you’ve made to your routine, and finally how you felt when you woke up. Then compare the entries to identify any patterns.

Have you experienced Lenor’s freshness yet? Why not leave us a review to let us know what you thought?

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Lenor

Sheila 16/01/2019

Great, love lenor, always delivers, smells amazing, makes clothes really soft

Lenor

16/01/2019

I always use Lenor I think it is the best conditioner ever, has wonderful fragrances that last and last,

Great tips

Invictus1 16/01/2019

I am guilty of all of these Great to get into a freshly laundered bed With the beautiful scent of Lenor

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