I have been working on a sleep campaign on Facebook and Instagram and am getting feedback from women over 50 who have trouble sleeping. It’s common for older people, particularly women in post-menopause to experience sleep issues. Many of these women offered tips on how they cope with the problem.
Trouble sleeping has become even worse because of the pandemic as well as its related financial anxiety.
Make sure your bed is supporting you
For a while, I would wake up in the middle of the night and feel like my arms and shoulders were vibrating. The feeling was so annoying I couldn’t go back to sleep. I was freaking out thinking something was seriously wrong until I realized it was simply muscle tension. Then I discovered the way my bed was set up made it even worse.
When I moved to where I am living now, I found a used wooden sleigh bed online with wooden slats that I love the look of. I also ordered one of those mattresses in a box that comes with built-in springs.
After doing some research, I learned the slats that go across my bed frame were not giving me enough support. Slats should be no more than 2 1/2″ apart and mine had too much space between them. To make the platform stronger, I found a mattress support wooden Bunkie on Amazon.
Each slat is connected by bands to evenly space them and keep them in place. But, instead of laying the bunkie across the bed frame, I took the slats out of the bands and laid them across the frame with the old slats to form a solid platform. A sturdy solid board would have worked as well, but this was easier for me to deal with.
To make my bed even firmer, I put a 2 “mattress topper over my mattress.
Now I am sleeping like a baby and no longer feel like I’m “vibrating” from tension.
It pays to buy a high-quality mattress and bedding in the first place, but that isn’t always possible. If you are experiencing trouble sleeping, check to make sure your bed is giving your back enough support.
That annoying peeing issue
One of the biggest reasons older adults have trouble sleeping is because they have to get up and pee in the middle of the night. My roommate, who is the same age as me, gets up almost every hour. I usually make it until around 5 am, then have a pee dream, and know I need to go to the bathroom. Sometimes I can go back to sleep but if it’s almost time to get up, I don’t.
I’ve recently become obsessed with historical TV shows like Versailles on Netflix. They always make me wonder how people dealt with doing their business at night before we had indoor toilets. We have it pretty easy.
According to historians, Versailles was a stinky cesspool for many years.
It’s hard to control how often you feel the urge to pee at night other than to limit the amount of liquid you drink before going to bed and then hope you don’t trip on the way to the bathroom.
Take a break from electronics before going to bed
Unlike my roommate, who watches TV all night long, I refuse to have a television in my bedroom. It’s supposed to be bad Feng Shui to have any electronics in the room you sleep in. My computer is in my room because that’s also where I work, but I make sure to turn it off an hour before going to bed, so I don’t get disturbed.
It’s tempting to look at your phone before dosing off to sleep, but that can also cause a sleep disturbance. It’s much better to read, listen to a book, turn on soothing music, or meditate.
Other ways to help you doze off when you have trouble sleeping
Many of the women who commented on my sleep campaign offered their advice.
Some mentioned they get up, watch a movie or read a book and then try to go back to sleep.
That reminded me of medieval sleep practices where they would have a first and second sleep. After the first sleep, our ancestors would get work done, have sex, party, or whatever people did in medieval times, and then return to bed for sleep #2.
Many women mentioned that they either pray or meditate.
Meditation will put you in a relaxed state, so if you never go back to sleep, you won’t feel wiped out in the morning.
Others took a sleeping pill or something like Benadryl.
Make sure that you run any medications by your doctor first and be careful not to get addicted to sleeping aids. Instead, try natural sleep remedies like melatonin, or chamomile tea.
Trouble sleeping can also arise from having hot flashes, a snoring spouse, a cat on your face, or a dog licking your face. As someone who slept with a dog every night, I can relate, but at least she didn’t snore.
Those who have sleep apnea, which can be a dangerous condition, say their sleep improved using a sleep apnea machine. To find out if you have physical issues like sleep apnea that may be keeping you awake, try using a device like the Go2Sleep heart rate, HRV, and blood oxygen tracker from Sleepon.
Joint pain and discomfort are common as we age. I find that regular exercise eases much of that.
One of the biggest reasons older people lose sleep is because of anxiety. Right now, we are all worried about becoming ill from the pandemic, cancer, heart disease, and who knows what else. We may also be reliving past traumas like loved ones dying or terrifying accidents. Get help if need be or practice self-care to reduce your stress.
I find having a long bath or shower before going to bed not only eases my anxiety but also relieves the aches and pains that come with age.
How do you get to sleep after you wake up during the night? We would all love to know. Please leave a comment below.