Anyone who has had a bad night’s rest knows how much it can affect their ability to function during the day. Sleep helps our bodies and brains recover and rejuvenate.
A lack of sleep can cause anxiety and depression. Getting enough rest improves mood and wellbeing. The time you spend in bed at night is necessary for your brain to clear harmful toxins through the glymphatic system. This system is 10 times more active while we are sleeping than when we are awake.
Getting quality sleep lowers your risk of disease. Lack of sleep can lead to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. Studies have found that insufficient sleep increases stress, which can cause inflammation and a weaker immune system.
All these things are especially important for elderly adults. They need approximately 7 to 9 hours of rest per night. Most older people tend to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier compared to when they were younger.
Health conditions can make it difficult to get good sleep. Anything that causes pain or discomfort can interrupt rest. Poor sleep can cause forgetfulness, memory problems, irritability, and increased fall risk.
All seniors should find ways to ensure that they get good rest every night. What can you do now to improve your quality of sleep?
- Have a Sleep Schedule and Stick with It
Every senior should have a sleep schedule. This includes a designated time to go to sleep and wake up. Try to stick with it regularly until your body is used to it.
It also helps you plan your day. You’ll know when you should start winding down for the evening and how early you will wake up to start your day. If you notice excessive sleeping or inadequate sleep, you should seek medical advice. Illnesses and mental health conditions like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder can cause insomnia.
- Calm Yourself with a Relaxing Routine
Have a bedtime routine that will tell your body it’s time for rest. What that routine includes depends on what works for you. Look for activities that are calming and soothing. Some seniors like to read a book or listen to relaxing music.
It’s best to avoid digital devices with screens like smartphones, televisions, and tablets. The blue light emitted from phones can restrain melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone that controls your circadian rhythm or sleep-wake cycle.
The content you watch can also affect your ability to sleep. For example, if you watch a thriller or horror movie, it could keep you awake.
- Try Taking a Warm Bath Before Bedtime
A warm bath is another great way to get ready for bed. The warm water is calming, and the coolness felt when getting out can help you feel tired.
You can enhance the experience by adding a fragrance that inspires rest, like lavender or chamomile. Epsom salt baths can also help you unwind. Some brands make Epsom salt that’s scented so you get both effects.
- Train Yourself to Sleep When You Go to Bed
You should view your bed as a place for sleep. Your mind and body should be ready to slumber when you lay down. If you end up lying in bed for more than 20 minutes without falling asleep, you should get up and move elsewhere until you are tired.
Repeating this process will train your body and mind that the bed is for sleeping.
- Avoid Daytime Naps for Better Nighttime Sleep
It may be tempting to take a nap during the day, especially if you are trying to develop a sleep schedule but haven’t quite gotten it yet. Avoid the urge to do this. Sleeping during the day will only make it harder to rest at night.
As long as you are allowing enough time at night to get the rest your body needs, you will eventually adapt. If not, you should talk to a doctor to ensure that you don’t have a medical condition or other problem affecting your quality of sleep.
- Get Sunlight During the Day to Stay Awake
Human beings instinctually associate the sun with daytime. It’s a time to be active. Use this to your advantage by getting sunlight during the day. Your mind and body will be ready to be more active, which will help tire you out for rest at night.
- Exercise Regularly to Help Burn Energy
If you are too sedentary, you may have trouble feeling sleepy. Regular exercise will help you burn energy, so you feel tired. Aerobic workouts are a good choice, as long as you do them safely and within your ability level.
Approximately 150 minutes of moderate activity per week is recommended for adults over age 65. Many seniors enjoy cycling, swimming, or walking. Look for activities that are easy on joints and allow you to build strength and flexibility.
Seniors should consult their doctor before starting a new workout routine. A medical professional can provide guidance to avoid injury or health complications.
- Do Not Drink Alcohol or Caffeine in the Evening
Alcohol and caffeine can impact your ability to rest. Even if you fall asleep, consumption can diminish the quality of rest you get. Avoid drinking either close to bedtime. Some people may need more time between when they imbibe and when they go to bed to avoid problems.
If possible, it’s best to avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol altogether for general health reasons.
- Drink Less at Night to Limit Bathroom Breaks
There’s nothing worse than finally getting comfortable and ready to sleep only to have to get up to use the bathroom. Avoid this problem by limiting the amount of fluids that you intake before bedtime. Fewer drinks mean fewer trips to the bathroom while you’re supposed to be resting.
If you need liquids to take medication or for medical reasons, continue to do so. Your doctor can provide more guidance if you have questions.
- Consult Your Doctor if You Have Sleep Problems
If you experience changes in your sleep patterns or are struggling to get good rest, consult your doctor. You may have an underlying condition that needs to be addressed. This should be done as soon as possible to avoid the repercussions of a lack of sleep.
Assisted living communities are designed for senior comfort and health. They provide a calm, quiet place for elderly adults to rest and relax. Visit Woodhaven Retirement Community now to learn more.