How to Sleep Better and Faster when you’re Aging

How to Sleep Better and Faster when you’re Aging
I like these orange glasses because I can put them over my much-needed prescribed glasses.

For years I browsed the internet and read books about how to sleep better and faster. Although I am still not the gold medal winner of sleepers, my sleep did improve. And now that I am aging I am more and more convinced it is very important to sleep deep and long enough.

One of the fears of a lot of aging people is to get dementia. It sure is one of my fears. My father, grandmother and an aunt had Alzheimer’s.

One of the reasons people can get it is through sleep deprivation. My father has been in shift work for years. Of course, nobody knows if this was the cause why he got the disease. Yet, it is mentioned in the list of risk factors.

Alzheimer’s is believed not to be hereditary. So it is not said that I shall have it. But as you can understand I want to do everything in my power to prevent it actively. 

How to sleep better and faster

Visualizing calming images helps
  • No screens 1 hour before I go to sleep. This means no computer, no TV (not that I have one, but I can watch on my computer of course) and no mobile phone;
  • Blocking blue light from the screens 2 hours before I go to bed. My iPhone is on ‘night shift’ and has a dark theme.
    To look at the bigger screens, I put on orange glasses that block out blue light;
  • I drink coffee in the morning before 11 am, never later on the day;
  • No eating after 5 pm. We eat breakfast and lunch as main meals. Late in the afternoon I usually grab a handful of nuts or some fruit; 
  • Half an hour before sleep I inhale lavender essential oil and put some on the soles of my feet and specifically on the big toes;
  • Sometimes the oil is not enough and then I take some sleep supplements. I have listed a few in this article: The 4 Best Supplements to Help You Sleep at Night;
  • When I put out the light I listen to a meditation for 5 to 10 minutes. These are on an old phone that has no sim card anymore. My mobile stays out of the bedroom;
  • Then I breathe 4-7-8, following the method of Dr. Andrew Weil. Breathe in 4 seconds through the nose, hold for 7 and breathe out forcefully through the mouth for 8 seconds;
  • Whenever I catch myself wandering off with my thoughts or worrying, I visualize a pond where we used to walk around back in the Netherlands;
  • Oh, and we have an open window to let in cool air and the bedroom is very dark.

Whenever I make lists like this I am aware of how overwhelming this may sound for somebody else. As if I do nothing else but keeping myself busy with trying to sleep.
Trust me, these activities are such a part of my life I hardly notice them anymore.

By the way, try listing all the things you do in a day. You will be amazed, I promise you. 🙂

Sleeping better at night starts when you get up

Snoozing and getting out of bed lazy give the signal to your body the day hasn’t started yet. Even this early in the day you are setting yourself up for a night of better sleep by getting out of bed energetically. Smile to yourself in the mirror and drink a big glass of water.

Related: ONE well-spent hour before breakfast.

Sleeping too fast means you’ve exhausted yourself

If you sleep the minute you lay your head on your pillow it usually means you’re too tired. Maybe you stayed up too late. Or you have done some strenuous activities.

Preferably you wake up without an alarm. If you train your body to sleep and get up at set times every day, also on the weekends, chances are high you’ll wake up without the need of an alarm.

Inhaling lavender essential oil
Oura ring on my finger and inhaling lavender essential oil

If you don’t, it’s better to go to sleep earlier than waking up later.

When I was a kid my mother always used to say that the hours before midnight counted double. I didn’t agree back then (which child ever agrees with his parents when it comes to bedtime?), I do nowadays.

Biohacking tools are hot

Maybe you know that I am a gadget fan. Whenever there is a hot new gizmo I am very tempted to buy one. 

One of those is the Oura ring. It’s a little computer around your finger that tracks your sleep and your activity. This appliance made me aware of my stages of sleep. And of the actual hours I sleep.

It turned out that my sleep diary from the past was quite accurate when it came to counting the hours. But I had no idea how those hours were divided in deep sleep, light sleep and REM sleep. Knowing this didn’t change my sleep, but it made me more aware of the relation between daily activities and sleep quality.

(Sttt, hot tip, when you consider buying this ring, subscribe to their newsletter first. Chances are high you’ll get an offer for a reduced price. At least, that’s what I got.)

Let it go when nothing helps

One well-spent hour before breakfast
Starting the day with a plan sets you up for the rest of the day, and for the night. Download our infographic!

Don’t expect overnight miracles. You won’t be The Sleeping Beauty in a short period of time. Be patient.

But if after a few months nothing helps at all, you either can visit a doctor or a sleep clinic, or just accept you’re not a good sleeper. Worrying about your sleep won’t work in your favor.

My tips are not rocket science, so I do hope of course that your sleep improves. As I said, I am not the best of sleepers to this day, but my sleep sure has improved. I am so happy with that!

What type of sleeper are you? Let us know in the comment box below.

6 thoughts on “How to Sleep Better and Faster when you’re Aging”

  1. Get up several times for the loo. If one coincides with 3-: ish, sometimes can’t get back to sleep, when I usually listen to an audiobook on my phone. Often hear dawn chorus throughout the year. It does what it does and if I nod off during the day, so be it.

    Reply
    • I agree with you, Diana. It’s often more difficult to continue sleep after a nightly visit to the bathroom! Changing drinking patterns during the day seem to have no effect on that. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Thank you. This is helpful! No eating after 5pm would be difficult, but 7:30 might be workable and eating a lighter dinner is a good idea. Any tips for those who fall asleep easily but wake up at 4am?

    Reply
    • Hi Kay, did you ever try lavender essential oil? Don’t use a cheap one from the supermarket, but a biological pure one.
      And another thing you could look at: the organs have a biological clock. Between 3 and 5 the lungs are at their height. Try doing breathing exercises.
      There is more to it. Messenge me if you want to know more about that. 🙂

      Reply
  3. I wake up too early every day, and it’s probably because of stress. I tried the 4-7-8 method, and it helped me. However, the most important thing is to go to bed and wake up every day simultaneously (in my opinion).

    I bought a smartwatch, and it tracks my sleeping – I think it’s a great way to track sleep continuity.

    Since I work night shifts, it’s a mission impossible to sleep and wake up every day at the same time. Do you have any advice for me?

    Reply
    • Ai, Petar, I can imagine you experience stress if you work night shifts. Night work is really bad for your health and your sleep pattern. As long as you have that line of work the only advice I can think of is to have 2 different sets of preferred sleeping and waking up times. One for the normal nights and one for when you have to sleep during the day.

      Maybe not feasible now, but the best advice is to try to get rid of those night shifts. My father worked night shifts for much of his life and he had so many health problems in later life that were caused by his disturbed day-night rhythm.

      Having a smartwatch is great, isn’t it? I have a ring with the same options and love it as well. Through insight, we can manage our sleeping patterns better, so it is indeed helpful. The device itself doesn’t do the trick, yet the insight does, so as far as I am concerned, it works wonders. 🙂

      Take care and I do hope you will be able to find a day job!

      Reply

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