Here’s how much sleep you need as you age, and 5 expert tips to help you get a better night’s rest

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It's a common myth that adults need less sleep as they get older, but older adults, like other adults, need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. Too much (or too little) sleep is linked to a variety of health problems, from diabetes and heart disease to depression. Lack of sleep in middle age can also increase the risk of dementia.
While getting enough rest is important, aging can make sleep elusive. Aging is associated with shorter sleep durations, more nighttime awakenings and earlier awakenings - and the changes start as early as your 20s.
"We used to think that sleep changes were an inexorable part of aging that would inevitably continue to decline throughout life," says Michael V. Vitiello PhD, professor of behavioral sciences at the University of Washington. "We've learned that the sleep changes we see as we age are actually much more complicated."
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Vitiello notes that while age-related changes in the brain and endocrine system appear to affect sleep and arousal, other changes in your health, including chronic pain, menopause, medications, and lifestyle changes associated with aging, can also affect sleep .
"If we look at older adults who are in excellent health, their sleep doesn't change significantly as they age," notes Junxin Li, a registered nurse and assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. "The poor sleep we've seen in older adults is largely caused by chronic medical conditions and drugs used to treat those conditions."
Regardless of the reason for sleep changes, Vitiello believes, “To some extent [sleep changes] are part of the aging process, [but] getting older doesn't mean sleeping poorly; There is a lot you can do to improve your sleep as you age.”
Use these strategies to get a good night's sleep.
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Rule out insomnia
According to Li, insomnia, sleep apnea and other sleep disorders are more common in older adults. If changing your sleeping habits isn't helping you get a good night's sleep, make an appointment with your doctor to rule out sleep disturbances — and get treatment if needed.
Soak in the tub
A hot bath (or shower) helps lower body temperature, which stimulates the production of melatonin and makes it easier to drift off into dreamland. Research shows that bathing in water that is 40 to 43 degrees Celsius at least 90 minutes before bedtime has the greatest impact on sleep quality.
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Break a sweat
Whether you walk, run, bike, or swim, a 30-minute aerobic session can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. In older adults, moderate physical activity three times a week for at least 12 weeks had the greatest benefits for sleep.
"Physical activity offers multiple health benefits [and] sleep is just one of them," says Li. "Older adults need to maintain an active lifestyle to see the benefits to sleep."
Staged
A cool, dark environment with minimal noise is best for sleep. Establishing a routine is also important. Vitiello suggests going to bed and waking up around the same time each day to regulate your circadian rhythm and make sleep a habit.
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"It doesn't have to be the same schedule to the minute, but it should be within a half-hour window," he adds. "A variable bedtime with a window of three to four hours does not contribute to sleep quality."
Turn off the screens
Checking email, texting, and scrolling social media before bed can disrupt sleep. The blue light from electronic devices has been linked to poor sleep quality, difficulty staying asleep and daytime sleepiness. Try turning off your phone at least 30 minutes before bed to sleep longer and more restfully.
"Many older adults think poor sleep is a normal part of aging and don't bring it up when they visit their doctor, which can lead to undiagnosed and untreated sleep disorders," Li says to be aware of the importance of sleep health and seek professional help with their sleep disorders.”
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com
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