As we get older, we often get less than the recommended seven and a half to eight hours a night. That's because our ability to sleep for long periods of time and to get into the deep, restful stages of sleep decreases with age, according to Dr. Clete A. Kushida, director of the Stanford University Center for Human Sleep Research.
"Insomnia affects about 30-40 percent [of] the general population and chronic insomnia is roughly 10 to 15 percent," Kushida said. "Women are affected in a ratio of 2-to-1 compared to men, and it does appear to increase with age."
Older adults may have medical conditions that contribute to sleep problems, and are more sensitive to light, noise and pain.
"As we age, we get more aches and pains that can interfere with our sleep," said Dr. Ronald A. Popper, the founder and medical director of the Southern California Pulmonary & Sleep Disorders Medical Center.
Illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and reflux disrupt sleep. Men with large prostates and men or women with bladder issues wake up to take frequent trips to the bathroom at night. And let's not forget those menopausal hormone changes and hot flashes that commonly cause insomnia. Sometimes, though, it's just an inability to unwind before bedtime that keeps people awake.
"The boomer lifestyle, with late working hours, the kids involved in school activities or extra-curricular activities late into the night keep the parents over-stimulated and without time to relax in the evening," Popper said. "As we enter the boomer age, we have more financial issues, college for the kids, mortgage payment, currently a declining stock market causing concerns for retirement, declining health of our parents, etcetera."
Here are Popper's tips to help Post50s to sleep soundly sans medication: