As we grow older, our sleep patterns change. You might find that you have some trouble sleeping. We spoke to people aged 65 plus about their sleep patterns. Most people had some form of difficulty with their sleep, such as:
- taking a long time to get to sleep,
- waking up a lot in the night
- waking up early in the morning
- a combination of some or all of these.
Most people had a set routine for sleep, including a particular time to go to bed and to get up. A few chose not to have a routine. Like Richard, some never had a routine. Others didn’t want to reach retirement and still live their lives by the clock. Those who worked part-time might vary their routine according to whether it was their day for working or not.
Richard leads a very active social life and finds the idea of having set sleep routines boring.
Mike varies his bedtime and wake up time according to whether he is working the next day, but may…
Taking time to get to sleep
The time it took for people to go to sleep ranged from ‘almost immediately’ to more than an hour. One or two people said it takes more than two hours to get sleep on some nights. When people had been out late with friends in the evening, they found it harder to switch off and unwind for sleep.
To help them get to sleep, people said they tried lots of different tactics, such as
- A later bedtime
- No coffee or alcohol before bed
- No naps in the daytime
Margaret believes her problem getting to sleep may be caused by the fact that she dozes off in front of the television at night. By the time she has woken up again and gotten ready for bed, she is wide awake again.
Fred may be very tired when he gets into bed initially, but after about 5 minutes he is wide…
Val takes a long time to fall asleep, wakes up a lot in the night, and early in the morning, but…
Waking up a lot in the night
Most people woke up in the night, at least once. For some people it was several times, either to go to the toilet, because of pain, or some other reasons (see Health, illness and pain). Carol told us she could easily be up six times in the night to go to the toilet. A few people just had the occasional night where they woke up a lot during the night.
Juliet hasnt had a full nights sleep since her diagnosis with rheumatoid arthritis 12 years ago…
Anne falls off to sleep okay, but then will wake up in the middle of the night.
Waking early in the morning
Whilst most people complained of having difficulty getting to sleep and waking up in the night, a few people did experience waking very early and not being able to get back to sleep. Anne told us that if she woke at 4 am she didn’t expect to be able to get back to sleep at all and will eventually get up.
Those who did wake up early usually didn’t find it was a problem and dealt with it in a variety of ways:
- getting up straight away and getting on with things they needed to do
- taking a cup of tea back to bed
- just dozing in bed and waiting until it was bit later.
Daniel typically wakes up at about 5 am now he is older, but will doze in bed until about 8 am.
Some people experienced a combination of several different kinds of sleeping difficulties but were more disturbed by one kind than another.
The News and sleep routines
Nearly all of the people we spoke to told us they had a great interest in what was happening in the world. They often had the news on either their radios or televisions throughout the day. Some people told us that if they wake up in the night they may watch the television news, or listen to the radio.
Several people also would not go to bed until after one of the news programmes at night although some found it difficult to stay awake for all of the news. Others would wake up in the morning and doze in bed listening to the morning news. Peter wakes at about 6 to 6.30 am every morning and will stay in bed until after the 8 o’clock news on the radio.
Margaret doesnt normally watch television, but likes to be in bed in time to watch Newsnight.
Not everyone felt they had problems sleeping. Some had periods of bad sleep during their lives and were sleeping better now. Others felt were aware they weren’t sleeping very much but they were quite happy with the amount they slept. They felt fine in the morning and could easily get on with what they needed to do during the day.
Christopher has never had a problem with his sleep, and still considers that he sleeps well, even…