Browse By

Tips For Sleep For Over 50s: New Research Uncovers Over 50s Exercise Impacted More By Sleep

This week it was revealed that people who are in the middle age of their lives are less likely to see the benefit of exercise in life if they are not getting enough sleep.

The findings were uncovered by scientists and researchers from the University College London (UCL), who found that those in their 50s and 60s who regularly exercised but slept less than six hours had a fast decline in certain skills.

Anna Campkin, who teaches a healthy sleep programme on healthy ageing platform Goldster, regularly advises the over 50s age group on how to get the best nights sleep. With the new data revealing that lack of sleep will not only impact your energy levels but also your exercise routine, Anna has shared below her ten top tips on a better night’s sleep for over 50s.

If you have any further questions for Anna, please do reach out.

Ten Top Tips on A Better Night’s Sleep

1. Create a routine
This can be anything relaxing but aim for it to be the same every evening so that your body starts to get into a rhythm of knowing when you have your bath, or hot cocoa that it’s nearly time for bed. It takes the stress out of having to make decisions in the evening and also helps to wind you down.

2. Sleep Hygiene
As part of your routine aim to go to bed and to rise at the same times every day. We are resetting our sleep hygiene when we do this and connecting to our body clock too.

3. Environment
Have a restful sleep environment. Keep the bedroom for sex and sleep where possible. If you need to work from this room, try and find a separate area, and not on the bed, we want to associate the bedroom with rest and sleep primarily.

4. Lights off
Make it easy to sleep, our circadian rhythm, or internal clock is guided by the amount of light we get. So have a dark room for sleep, this can be created by blackout curtains, or by investing in an eye mask to block out the light.

5. Create a quiet space
Similarly, we need a quiet space for sleeping, so investing in ear plugs, or even removing distractions can really help – if sleeping in shifts letting people know when you are available and when you are sleeping so as not to be interrupted.

6. Your diet
Be mindful of the foods you are eating before bed. Too much in quantity or spice and you might find indigestion or sugar peaks and dips keep you awake; too little and you might be waking needing a snack. Eating foods such as cherries, oats, pistachios, salmon, almonds and strawberries are all high in melatonin, which is our sleep hormone and really helps promote sleep for us. Limit caffeine intake in the afternoon. Be mindful that caffeine will stay in your system for 5 hours, so a drink you have at 2pm will still be in your system at 7pm. Decaffeinated options might be a wise alternative for later in the day.

7. Screen time before bed is a big NO!
Keep away from your screens at night – the blue light can interrupt our melatonin production and confuse our brains thinking it isn’t actually bedtime – so avoid late night scrolling. Set a time to be off your phone by and make this at least 30 minutes before you want to sleep.

8. Wind down
Have a bath or a hot shower. Not only does the hot water soothe tension in our muscles; when we dry off and the water evaporates off our body our body temperature drops, mimicking the natural drop in temperature we experience before we sleep – thus making us sleepy!

9. Exercise
It might sound counterproductive but being aware of our exercise can help our sleep. Have high energy, vigorous exercise in the morning to get you going, wake yourself up and kick start your metabolism and then calmer movement in the afternoon. Ideally don’t exercise in the 2-3 hours before bed as this will impact on you to being able to fall asleep.

10. Don’t give up
If you can’t sleep, get out of bed! It may sound mad, but if you are clock-watching and not sleeping in bed you start to associate bed with anxiety and unrest. If you notice you are awake for more than 30 minutes get up, go sit somewhere else and read, or have a hot milky drink and then come back and try again in a bit. This will get you out of the habit of associating being in bed with not being able to sleep.