Getting a good night’s sleep can be difficult at any age. For seniors, getting older can present new challenges in falling asleep and staying asleep throughout the night. Sleeping problems for seniors can be caused by decreasing physical activity, illness or medications, developing sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea, or naturally changing circadian rhythms. Insufficient sleep can cause seniors to be more tired during the day, which can lead to irritability, isolation, and even physical health problems.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to improve the length and quality of your sleep as a senior:
1. Associate The Bedroom With Sleep And Comfort
It’s important to train your body and your brain to associate the bedroom with sleeping. Don’t stay up watching TV or reading in bed; only go to bed when it’s time for sleep. Your bedroom should be a sleep zone. Keep it dark with light-blocking shades and maintain a cooler temperature if possible so you can enjoy the comfort of warm blankets. If you train yourself to think of the bedroom as a room for sleeping, it will help you fall asleep faster.
2. Establish A Bedtime Routine
A bedtime routine starts with establishing a regular bedtime. You should go to sleep and get up at the same time every day (even on weekends!) so your body can internalize your sleep schedule. Within at least one hour of your bedtime, turn off all electronic devices. The light admitted from TV screens, computer screens, and smartphone screens can seriously mess with your body’s ability to relax and fall asleep. Instead of using your electronic devices, take some time to enjoy activities that help you relax. Try reading a book, listening to soft music, taking a bath, or drinking hot tea.
3. Be Active During The Day
If you are able to get even a small amount of exercise in during the day, it will help your body be ready to get to sleep at night. Try going for a brisk walk or even a light jog. Do things that activate the mind too like reading, writing, socializing, or whatever hobbies or activities you enjoy. Also, make sure you regulate your naps during the day. Keep your naps short and don’t take too many. Naps are okay and even necessary for seniors to get through the day, but if they are too long or too frequent they can lead to sleeping problems at night.
4. Eat “Sleep-Friendly” Foods
What you eat effects everything about your body, including how your body sleeps. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugar in the hours leading up to bedtime. Also, abstain from foods