Everyone has their own sleep patterns but one thing I hear over and over from older people is that they wake up several times at night. Some can’t sleep at all and have insomnia. Others are light sleepers and wake up whenever they hear a sound. In my case, I go to sleep and wake up at the same time but wake up several times to what I call “endless nights.”
My endless nights
When I go to bed, I will usually start snoozing soon afterward. But around 3 or 4 am something makes me wake up. I have thick curtains on the windows that block out the light, but I leave a small slit open because I want to know when it’s morning. It’s often still black outside and the night feels like it will never end.
I usually fall back asleep but may wake up again when it’s still dark and wonder what time it is. I say things to myself like, “Is it because I’m so eager to get up?” “Will sleeping a solid 8 hours be a waste of my time left on Earth?”
My chihuahua, who sleeps with me, sometimes wakes up and “meows” to go out. She’s getting on in years and needs to go out and do her business. I can’t let her out in the yard at night by herself because there are coyotes and other creatures that could get over the fence. So, I have to get up, put on my glasses and slippers and stand in the cold until she comes back in.
If I can’t fall back asleep again, I’ll suck on rescue remedy pastille which usually sends me to dreamland again. It’s a homeopathic formula that will relax you if you’re stressed out, hence the “rescue.” As a rule, I don’t depend on sleep aids.
My roommate has a bizarre sleep schedule. She goes to bed around 6 pm and wakes up between 2 or 3 am. Then, she watches TV all night. Our house is mostly soundproof but I can sometimes hear her banging around in the kitchen and turning on the microwave.
There are many reasons why people wake up during the night
Being anxious is a big one. If you’re stressed-out chances are, you’ll start dreaming about it, and it will wake you up. It’s always a good idea to turn off your electronics and TV at least one hour before you go to bed. If you can, make your bedroom an electronics–free zone.
You get cold or hot or both when you sleep
Women who have reached menopause and some older men experience temperature changes in their bodies. This can change throughout the night and wake you up. Keep your home thermostat at an even temperature where you feel the most comfortable. However, this may be a challenge if you have a spouse or roommate who has a different body temperature tolerance than you.
Your bladder calls you to the commode
Even though it’s important to stay hydrated when you’re older, try to ease up on drinking liquid close to when you go to sleep. You should also stay away from sugary treats, especially if you have diabetes as the sugar makes you thirsty and may cause you to drink more. Too much alcohol can also cause you to have to pee frequently as well as disrupt your sleep patterns.
Achy bones and sleepy limbs keep you tossing and turning
It’s almost inevitable that arthritis will set in as you age and cause aches and pains when you sleep, especially if you lie in one position too long. Regular exercise during the day for at least 30 minutes, will keep your legs and other parts of your body from feeling stiff at night.
Lying in a position with your arms raised too high can make them start to tingle and feel uncomfortable. For both arthritis and circulation issues, it helps to put a flat pillow between your legs and set another beside you so you can rest your arm on it.
That gassy feeling
As we get older our digestion slows down and gas may become an embarrassing issue. It’s hard to go to sleep when you’re bloated and are afraid to blast your sleeping partner. If you can, it may be worth it to do a blood test to find out what foods cause you indigestion as each of us is different.
Generally, if you stick to protein and non-cruciferous vegetables for dinner, you’ll have a better chance of making it through the night without honking your horn.
Chatty Cathy is talking in your head
This is similar to having anxiety. You have so many things to do that you go over and over them in your mind before you go to sleep. It may help to make a to-do list before you go to bed, so you don’t have to think about it. About an hour before going to bed pick up an uplifting story to read or listen to your favorite soothing music before turning in. A long bath or shower before bed is also relaxing.
What wakes you up at night and what do you do to get into sleep mode? Please leave a comment below.