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Aging and sleep

As we age, we often experience normal changes in our sleeping patterns, such as becoming sleepy earlier, waking up earlier, or not sleeping as deeply. However, disturbed sleep, waking up tired every day, and other symptoms of insomnia are NOT a normal part of aging.

Sleep is just as important to your physical and emotional health as it was when you were younger. A good night’s sleep helps improve concentration and memory formation, allows your body to repair any cell damage that occurred during the day, and refreshes your immune system, which in turn helps to prevent disease.

Older people who don’t sleep well are more likely to suffer from depression, attention and memory problems, excessive daytime sleepiness, and experience more night time falls. Insufficient sleep can also lead to serious health problems, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight problems, and breast cancer in women.

To improve your quality of sleep it’s important to understand the underlying causes of your sleep problems. The following tips can help you identify and overcome age-related sleep problems, get a good night’s rest, and improve the quality of your waking life.

How much sleep do older adults need?

While sleep requirements vary from person to person, most healthy adults require seven to nine hours of sleep per night. However, how you feel in the morning is more important than a specific number of hours. Frequently waking up not feeling rested or feeling tired during the day are the best indications that you're not getting enough sleep.

How does aging affect sleep?

As you age your body produces lower levels of growth hormone, so you'll likely experience a decrease in slow wave or deep sleep (an especially refreshing part of the sleep cycle). When this happens you produce less melatonin, meaning you'll often experience more fragmented sleep and wake up more often during the night.

That's why many of us consider ourselves “light sleepers” as we age. You may also:

  • Want to go to sleep earlier in the evening and wake up earlier in the

  • morning.

  • Have to spend longer in bed at night to get the hours of sleep you need, or make up the shortfall by taking a nap during the day.

  • In most cases, such sleep changes are normal and don't indicate a sleep problem. Sleep problems not related to age

At any age, it's common to experience occasional sleep problems. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms on a regular basis, you may be dealing with a sleep disorder:

  • Have trouble falling asleep even though you feel tired.

  • Have trouble getting back to sleep when awakened.

  • Don't feel refreshed after a night's sleep.

  • Feel irritable or sleepy during the day.

  • Have difficulty staying awake when sitting still, watching television, or driving.

  • Have difficulty concentrating during the day.

  • Rely on sleeping pills or alcohol to fall asleep.

  • Have trouble controlling your emotions.



Winter Safety for Older Adults

The elderly run a greater risk for health problems and injuries related to the weather when the temperature drops, like hypothermia. Cold weather leads to reduced body temperature, and the body undergoes thermoregulation to adjust to the new climate. You can have a healthy, supercharged winter by following a few easy precautions during the winter season with little effort. While you must enjoy the winter season, remember to take measures to stay healthy. This goes especially for the elderly, whose immune system is weak and more prone to illnesses. However, this shouldn’t keep the seniors from enjoying the winter sun and everything this season offers. Here are a few tips for the elderly that will help them stay healthy and safe and enjoy the season simultaneously.

Five handy winter self-care tips for seniors:

1. Stay warm

Older adults are at greater risk of weather-related health problems and injuries, such as hypothermia, when temperatures drop. Wear warm clothes – Cover up your body the moment you feel cold. Don’t wait till you start shivering. It is recommended to wear gloves, socks, scarves, a woollen hat, and/or anything that keeps your body warm & comfortable. While enjoying the winter season is essential, remember to take steps to stay healthy. This is especially true for the elderly, whose immune systems are weak and more susceptible to illness.

2. Stay active

While winters may seem like the perfect time of year to stay in bed longer, curl up, and stay inside all day, staying active and connected is a good idea. Any exercise can help increase your heart rate, regulate blood flow and eliminate winter depression, lethargy, stiffness, and pain. Physical activity also makes you sweat, removes toxins, and keeps your skin healthy. You can invest in handy exercise equipment at home when you can’t go out. In addition, daily yoga or any physical activity can help warm up and strengthen your immune system, improving your defences against seasonal illnesses such as flu and colds.

Note: Those with heart ailments need guidance from their doctor on exercising.

3. Stay hydrated

Naturally, in winter, you are less thirsty than usual throughout the year. However, dehydration can dehydrate the body due to the lack of moisture in the air. Water helps clean our system, carries nutrients to the body cells, and helps maintain the body’s fluid balance. So, ensure that you drink plenty of water. If you don’t want to drink cold water, drink room temperature or make yourself lukewarm tea that you can drink throughout the day. Keep rooms warm and humid.

Take care of your skin

Older people often neglect to take care of their skin. But they need more skincare than usual because their skin becomes dry and itchy in winter. Damaged skin is one of the winter dangers. Cold weather causes dry, itchy skin, chapped lips, and cracked heels. Winter skincare must include moisturizing, applying sunscreen, and increasing water intake. Remember to apply sunscreen before going out. Everyone, including the elderly, should go outside and enjoy winter. But they need to be more conscious before going out.

5. Eat a Well-Balanced Diet:

Balanced nutrition rich in whole grains, lean meats, fish, poultry, legumes, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices, and fresh fruits and vegetables is essential to boosting your immune system. You can also optimize your intake of vitamin C-rich foods that help strengthen your system and keep your body healthy. Older people need to ensure they don’t miss out on the essential nutrients their bodies need to keep infections at bay. So balanced meals are ideal. Also, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grain products, and dried fruits.

Shower using lukewarm water: “There’s nothing more satisfying than a bubbly hot shower when it’s cold outside. But while hot showers feel great, they can cause skin problems. On the other hand, a lukewarm shower followed by a hydrating routine can help prevent dry skin.

Quit Smoking: Smoking makes one more susceptible to respiratory infections in the winter, so you should quit.

Vitamin D: Get outside and enjoy the warm sun. Our bodies need vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for maintaining good health and immunity, and vitamin D is also necessary for regulating mood.


Staying hydrated, eating right, and exercising can lay a good foundation for maintaining good health in winter. Winter has long been associated with illness. Bacterial infections are expected during the change of seasons, so please take the necessary measures to protect your health. The cold weather may have tempted you to relax and enjoy the weather, but don’t neglect your health.


To function properly, all the cells and organs of the body need water. Here are some reasons our body needs water:

1. It lubricates the joints: Cartilage, found in joints and the disks of the spine, contains around 80 percent water. Long-term dehydration can reduce the joints’ shock-absorbing ability, leading to joint pain.

2. It forms saliva and mucus: Saliva helps us digest our food and keeps the mouth, nose, and eyes moist. This prevents friction and damage. Drinking water also keeps the mouth clean. Consumed instead of sweetened beverages, it can also reduce tooth decay.

3. It delivers oxygen throughout the body: Blood is more than 90 percent water, and blood carries oxygen to different parts of the body.

4. It boosts skin health and beauty: With dehydration, the skin can become more vulnerable to skin disorders and premature wrinkling.

5. It cushions the brain, spinal cord, and other sensitive tissues: Dehydration can affect brain structure and function. It is also involved in the production of hormones and neurotransmitters. Prolonged dehydration can lead to problems with thinking and reasoning.

6. It regulates body temperature: Water that is stored in the middle layers of the skin comes to the skin’s surface as sweat when the body heats up. As it evaporates, it cools the body. Having a lot of water in the body may reduce physical strain if heat stress occurs during exercise. However, more research is needed into these effects.

7. The digestive system depends on it: The bowel needs water to work properly. Dehydration can lead to digestive problems, constipation, and an overly acidic stomach. This increases the risk of heartburn and stomach ulcers.

8. It flushes body waste: Water is needed in the processes of sweating and removal of urine and faeces.

9. It helps maintain blood pressure: A lack of water can cause blood to become thicker, increasing blood pressure.

10. The airways need it: When dehydrated, airways are restricted by the body in an effort to minimize water loss. This can make asthma and allergies worse.

11. It makes minerals and nutrients accessible: These dissolve in water, which makes it possible for them to reach different parts of the body.

12. It prevents kidney damage: The kidneys regulate fluid in the body. Insufficient water can lead to kidney stones and other problems.

13. It boosts performance during exercise: Some scientists have proposed that consuming more water might enhance performance during strenuous activity. More research is needed to confirm this, but one review found that dehydration reduces performance in activities lasting longer than 30 minutes.

14. Weight loss: Water may also help with weight loss, if it is consumed instead of sweetened juices and sodas. “Preloading” with water before meals can help prevent overeating by creating a sense of fullness.

Adapted from:

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