People are being advised to avoid coffee in the afternoons as they get older, in a bid to help them sleep. Experts believe that over-50s are especially susceptible to the effects of caffeine, hindering a good night’s sleep and therefore preventing the mind from being as sharp as it could be.
The charity Age UK has acknowledged that sleeping can become harder as ageing sets in, but seven to eight hours is still the optimum amount. As a result, it has released a set of guidelines to follow, so the over-50s can sleep better.
Included on the list are avoiding tea and coffee, as well as ensuring any daytime naps are shorter than 30 minutes. Age UK also says older people should try and get up at the same time every day, seek natural sunlight and cut down on alcohol consumption.
Further measures they could take are eating dinner at least three hours before going to bed, avoiding electronic screens in the evening and keeping feet warm by wearing socks in bed. Some of the other advice, such as avoiding arguments with a spouse and banishing pets from the sleeping quarters, could be harder to achieve.
Age UK and the American Association of Retired Persons brought together a panel of experts to create the guidelines. They are called the Global Council on Brain Health and following their advice could lead to a happier and healthier life for elderly people.
James Goodwin from Age UK said: "Sleeping is something we all tend to take for granted, but we really have to wise up to the fact that getting the right amount of good sleep is crucial as we age, helping to protect us from all kinds of problems that can affect our brains as well as our bodies.
"The message is that in order to stay mentally sharp in later life - something we all care passionately about - take care of your sleep."
Older people are more susceptible to waking during the night and early in the morning. Such interrupted or lack of sleep can increase the risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes, according to the authors of the report.
Chris Stemman, from the British Coffee Association, pointed out that while caffeine is a stimulant, there are other options for those who enjoy the taste in the afternoon. Switching to decaffeinated coffee could mean better sleep while retaining the ritual and flavour of coffee at any time of the day.