Not sleeping as well as you did when you were 20? That’s because the quality of sleep we get declines as we get older. Sleep scientist Matthew Walker explains that happens because of a gradual buildup of the protein beta amyloid in the brain. He says by the time we’re in our 50s we may have lost 40 to 50% of that deep sleep we used to get and still need, and by the time we’re 70? We may have lost almost 90% of that deep sleep. Since we can’t stop aging, these are some sleep-specialist approved ways for women over 40 to fall asleep faster and actually stay asleep.
- Do a “last call” on liquids – If you’re waking up multiple times a night to go to the bathroom, it’s time to give your bladder a curfew. Sleep advisor Dr. Joshua Tal recommends women over 40 stop drinking liquids about two hours before bedtime.
- Turn the thermostat down – Crank it way down, like much lower than you think, in order to hit the sweet spot for sleeping temperature. Our bodies need to drop their temperature to initiate sleep and Walker advises setting the thermostat between a chilly 65 and 68 degrees.
- Get out of your head – If your mind races with to-do lists, brainstorming and analyzing that weird call with your boss as you try to drift off to sleep, you’re in good company. Dr. Tal says many of his female clients over 40 experience this and he has a fix – getting out of bed to quickly jot down all your worries and thoughts so you can clear your head.
- Try melatonin – Prescription sleep aids are actually just sedatives, which don’t help you get the rest you need, Walker explains, but he says melatonin supplements may help. They’re not a sleep aid, but they’re designed to help you regulate your sleep’s timing and can be beneficial for older patients who have a weaker natural release of melatonin.
- Pay attention to your nose – Dr. Tal explains that if your nose is stuffy, laying down can cause discomfort and disturb sleep and he suggests running a humidifier at night can help.
- Do a sleep hygiene audit – How do you know if you’re getting the highest quality sleep you possibly can? Behavioral sleep medicine specialist Dr. Lisa Medalie recommends doing a sleep hygiene audit to find out. That means checking for light coming in from the widows, noises that could be waking you up, if your PJs are comfy and breathable, as well as what you read, watched, ate and drank before bed to figure out of any of these things could be keeping you awake.