Improve your sleep
5th December 2019
Ongoing day-time fatigue is most likely a consequence of poor sleep and can cause falls, medication errors, heart problems and a number of diseases. Almost all of us change our sleep patterns as we age, but it’s not true that we need less sleep. Ageing tends to make us sleep and wake earlier in the day, but poor quality sleep is more likely to be caused by lifestyle, disease or medication than by ageing alone.
Review your medications
Medications can both help and hinder sleep. Adequate relief for cramps and arthritis can help you stay asleep, as can the right use of medication to improve your breathing and blood pressure. However, sleeping tablets can actually make sleep quality worse if they are the wrong type or dose for you. Sometimes different medications can interact with each other in ways that impact on sleep. Your GP is the best person to evaluate your medications and ensure your dosage adjusts with your changing age and circumstances.
Consider medical conditions
Poor sleep and fatigue is also associated with a number of common conditions. These include anaemia, endocrine disorders, depression or vitamin B12 deficiency. You may also have sleep apnoea (briefly not breathing whilst asleep), which often goes undiagnosed but can be easily treated. Your GP is the best person to assess whether these conditions are preventing you from a good night sleep.
Difficulty getting to sleep?
There are a number of things that can make falling asleep difficult. Napping during the day, drinking tea or coffee in the six hours before going to bed, medication and anxiety can all keep your eyes open long after you have gone to bed.
Good sleeping habits
We recommend trialling these good sleeping habits and routines to decrease your fatigue and help rule out any medical conditions.
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day
- Avoid large evening meals
- Avoid caffeine or alcohol for at least four hours before you plan to sleep
- Avoid any fluid in the hour before you sleep
- Avoid smoking in the hours before sleep
- Read rather than watch TV in bed
- Avoid napping during the day
- Get some physical activity during the day
- Use the bed only for sleep and sex
- If you do not fall asleep within 20 minutes get up and do some reading or light activity that does not involve bright lighting (such as TVs or computer screens).