As we age, it is normal to see that our sleep patterns adjust and change. Unfortunately, it’s common to have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep as we get older. There are many factors why our sleep patterns change as we age and some reasons are still unknown. Research suggests that sleep disturbances among the elderly can be attributed to physical and psychiatric illnesses and the medications used to treat them, as well as changes to our circadian rhythms. No matter the reason, it’s crucial that seniors get a good night’s sleep to maintain a healthy lifestyle. As a senior, there are many things you can do that will help you get a good night’s sleep. Below are five simple tips to incorporate into your lifestyle to help you sleep well as you age.
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule: It’s recommended to go to sleep and wake up around the same time each day. Sticking to a regular bedtime keeps your mind and body on a schedule that makes it easy to get into the habit of falling asleep and staying asleep. Contrary to popular belief, seniors require the same amount of shut-eye that younger adults require. Most adults 18 and older require seven to nine hours of sleep, no matter what decade of life they are in.
- Limit technology before bedtime: This isn’t just recommended for the younger generations. Practice using your bedroom only for sleeping. Avoid using technology like your computer, cell phone, or tablet in the bedroom. The light from these devices can make it difficult to fall asleep. In the evenings and as you prepare for bed, use low lighting in your house.
- Be mindful of napping and exercising during the day: We love a good nap, but be mindful when you take a nap because the later you take a nap, it may keep you awake at night. That’s why it is recommended to avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening. Consider exercising during the day, which can help you sleep better at night. Just make sure to exercise at regular times each day and not within three hours before your bedtime.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine and comfortable bed: Take the time you need to relax before bedtime and create a serene sleep environment. For example, relaxation techniques can include reading a book, listening to peaceful music, or soaking in a warm bubble bath. In addition, it’s especially crucial for seniors to have the proper bedding & equipment that will help them sleep comfortably and safely. When choosing the best bedding for seniors, we’ve got you covered.
- Watch what you eat before bedtime: It’s recommended to have dinner around the same time every night to help keep your body on a schedule. Limit how much you drink before bedtime to help avoid trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Eating your last meal two to three hours before your bedtime is a good rule of thumb to follow. Avoid nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol later in the day, since those are stimulants and can take hours to wear off.
Insomnia, snoring, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) are all common causes of sleep problems for seniors, which may require your doctor’s attention. It’s important that you report sleep disturbances to your doctor.