1. Don’t Drink (Anything) Too Close to Bedtime
You know it’s important to stay hydrated. But if you’re waking up multiple times a night to pee, it’s time to set a curfew for your bladder. “As women get older, pelvic floor muscles weaken and vaginal tissue thins causing difficulty controlling urinary urges at night,” Dr. Joshua Tal, Sleep Advisor to Idle Group tells us. He recommends that women over forty stop drinking liquids about two hours before bedtime. While caffeine and alcohol can be especially disruptive to sleep, even water can cause middle-of-the-night wakeups that can disrupt your sleep cycles.
2. Stick to a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Saturday and Sunday mornings might have been snooze-the-day-away free-for-alls when you were in college, but it’s wrecking your sleep schedule now. Try to work toward waking up and getting out of bed at the same time every day—regardless of when you have work—to get your sleep and wake times on track. Per Dr. Andrew Varga, M.D., a neurologist and sleep medicine specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, “Much of it is about personal limit-setting, recognizing the environmental factors and personal habits that have the capacity to disrupt one’s sleep schedule, and trying to minimize the variance in daily sleep onset and offset time, particularly between weekend and weekday times.”
3. Turn the A.C. Up
Hey, you, with your bedroom temperature set for 74 degrees. The balmy atmosphere in your room might be messing with your slumber. Sleep scientist Matthew Walker, the author of Why We Sleep, explained on Fresh Air, “Your body needs to drop its temperature to initiate sleep, and it's the reason it's always easier to fall asleep in a room that's too cold than too hot.” He recommends setting your thermostat between (yes) 65 and 68 degrees to get the best night of sleep. (If that sounds ridiculously freezing to you, he doesn’t mention anything about bundling up under a huge comforter and wearing flannel PJs.)
4. Try Melatonin
If you have chronic sleep issues, your first instinct might be to ask your doctor for a prescription sleep aid. But Walker notes that sleep aids don’t technically help you sleep. They are sedatives, so while you will spend the night sedated, it isn’t actually helping you achieve the rest you need. For older patients who have a weaker natural release of melatonin, Walker notes that taking melatonin supplements could help. While not technically a sleep aid, melatonin is a supplement that is designed to help you regulate your sleep’s timing. “There are a whole set of different chemicals and brain mechanisms that actually generate sleep and get you into sleep,” walker says. “Melatonin simply times when sleep is going to occur, not the generation of sleep itself.” Still, it’s worth a shot if you’ve felt your quality of sleep decline over the years.
5. Keep a Sleep Journal
Understanding what it is that keeps you awake at night—say, the tendency to reach toward your nightstand for your phone, midnight snacking or going for a run at 9 p.m.—is key to repairing this broken sleep cycle. Track your nocturnal habits and see what contributes to a good night’s sleep and what leads to hours of tossing and turning. Excommunicate the latter from your routine.