Older adults often sleep less deeply and wake up more often throughout the night, which may be why they may nap more often during the daytime. Nighttime sleep schedules may change with age. Many older adults tend to get sleepier earlier in the evening and awaken earlier in the morning.

Some reasons why older adults sleep less deeply and wake up more often during the night are:

  • Older adults may produce and secrete less melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep.
  • Increased sensitivity to changes in their environment, such as noise.

Not sleeping well can lead to a number of problems. Older adults who have poor nighttime sleep are more likely to have a depressed mood, attention and memory problems, excessive daytime sleepiness, more nighttime falls, and use more over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids.

Poor sleep is also associated with a poorer quality of life. Limited sleep will make it more difficult to get healthy and lose weight. Poor sleep can also negatively affect hormones that make you hungry and store fat.

Medicinal Cannabis and Sleep

Ask you doctor if medicinal cannabis is a safe treatment option for you. Individuals who suffer from poor sleep should work with a health care practitioner experienced in recommending CBD or medicinal cannabis so that the dosage and delivery methods can be developed and individualized.

In general, most people who use medicinal cannabis and/or CBD to help them sleep, indica strains are more relaxing and effective. This is likely because indica strains promote relaxation while sativa strains are more stimulating and tend to keep people alert and awake.

CBD Edibles and Tinctures for Sleep?

Medicinal cannabis oils, edibles, and capsules can last 6-8 hours, which helps to sleep all night. When talking with your doctor, ask for the lowest dosage. This will allow you to test your sensitivity. If needed, you can always increase the dosage.

CBD Vaporizers, and Smoking for Sleep?

CBD administered via a vaporizer or smoking can help an individual fall asleep, but often does not help staying asleep. This is because the effects are immediate, but short-lived and do not last throughout the night.

Tips to Sleep Better

  • Start a regular schedule
    • Our bodies love routines. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day creates a rhythm for your body. Also, use your bed only to sleep (or romance). Do not watch TV in your bed or talk about stressful work situations. Resist the urge to talk on the phone or use other electronic devices in bed.
  • Stretch or do yoga as a part of your bedtime routine
    • Yoga and stretching relaxes your mind and body.
  • Avoid alcohol
    • Alcohol can cause restlessness during the night. Caffeine and nicotine have substances in them that will keep you awake.
  • Clear your mind.
    • Excess thinking can hinder sleep. If it is difficult to wind down and turn off your mind, try keeping a journal or notebook by your bed and write down your to-do list or ruminations before you go to sleep. This will help you release thoughts before going to sleep.
  • Avoid smoking
    • Nicotine has substances in it that will keep you awake.
  • Get grounded
    • Electromagnetic frequencies can make it difficult to go to sleep. Keep all of your electronic devices away from your bed and preferably in another room.  Create a common area charging station in your home and ask all family members to leave their devices in the designated place before going to bed.
    • Avoid computers, smart phones, tablets and television one or two hours before bed.
  • Avoid caffeine
    • Caffeine has substances in it that will keep you awake.
  • Unwind with an acupressure mat.
    • Lying on an acupressure mat will help stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system and create deep relaxation. Lay on it for about 30 or more minutes before bed.
  • Exercise regularly
    • But do not exercise near your bedtime.
  • Get natural sunlight
    • Try to get 20 minutes of sunshine every day. Sunshine triggers your brain to release chemicals that regulate sleep cycles.
  • Avoid sleep interruptions
    • Don’t sleep with the pet, close your door, minimize light and noise.
  • Relax before bedtime
    • A warm bath, meditations, guided imagery, or deep breathing can help calm your mind and help go to sleep. Calming essential oils such as lavender, Roman chamomile or ylang ylang and be added to bath water or lightly dabbed on your body.
  • Avoid liquids before bedtime
    • Limits having to use the bathroom at night.
  • Avoid long naps during the day
    • Naps can disrupt your sleeping pattern.
  • Avoid trying to sleep the more you “try” to sleep, the more difficult it becomes.
  • Check your medications
    • Medications might increase your sleep difficulties.

How much REM sleep should a person get?

The amount of REM sleep needed varies according to age. In a typical healthy adult, REM sleep comprises about 20 to 25 percent of total sleep. Infants typically spend more time in REM sleep than adults. This is likely because REM sleep stimulates the brain regions used in learning. This may be important for normal brain development during infancy.

How much REM sleep did you get?

It is difficult to track the amount of REM sleep and most consumer sleep trackers are not accurate. However, if you wake up every morning with vivid memories of last night’s dreams, you are probably getting at least some decent quality REM sleep. However, if you have obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that interferes with nighttime breathing and causes people to wake so they don’t suffocate, it is important to seek medical help so you can help elevate REM sleep back to normal levels. Sleep apnea is a very common and extremely under-diagnosed problem. It affects 18 million Americans and most are unaware that they have it.