If there’s one thing everyone can agree on is that a good night’s sleep is essential for our mental and physical health. This is particularly true for seniors since, as we age, sleep patterns can get easily altered.
It’s not uncommon for seniors to wake up multiple times during the night, or to wake up extremely early (even if they still feel unrested). But that’s no reason to buy into the myth that seniors need lees sleep than when they were younger, or that older people are supposed to just feel tired during the day. That’s not the case at all!
Instead, we’ll share with you some guidelines to get a proper good night’s sleep.
Sleep not only allows our bodies to rest and restore but is also absolutely necessary for our nervous system to work properly. It has been proven that sleep, mood, attention and memory are closely related. This makes sleep a key aspect of independent senior living.
Check out our simple guidelines to improve your sleep.
- Evaluate your habits.
Daily habits affect our sleep. For example, drinking caffeinated beverages during the evening like tea, soda and coffee can disrupt your usual sleep patterns. Alcohol consumption has been proven to alter sleep too, as is the case with having large amounts of food late at night. Our bodies are always changing, so even if you felt that indulging in these practices didn’t have anything to do with your sleep, maybe it does now. Evaluate your habits and give yourself the opportunity to really rest at night.
There are some habits that, contrary to what we’ve just mentioned, can benefit how you sleep. Things like light – but daily – exercise, a healthy diet and recreational activities like painting, writing or singing, usually leave you feeling healthy and relaxed, which can make falling asleep easier.
- Take care of your sleep environment.
Sleeping in a comfortable environment will surely make you unwind. Make sure you have a comfy mattress and pillow, as this will also reduce chronic pain. And don’t forget about your room safety –the priority of senior living: get a nightlight or lamp that’s easy to access, clean your bedroom (so you won’t trip on anything in case you get up at night) and have a phone within reach. Knowing that your bedroom is nice, clean and safe will unconsciously send you the message that it’s ok to relax.
- Use your bedroom properly.
This is an easy mistake to make, after all, who doesn’t want to lie in bed for just five more minutes, right? But give your bed the proper use and sleep in it. No eating, no internet surfing, no reading, etc. This will make you link the bed exclusively with sleepy times and adjust your inner clock. Another great way to do this is to follow a sleeping schedule in which you wake up (and ideally, go to bed) at the same time every day.
- Create a sleep routine.
Choose an activity that soothes you and practice it before going to bed. While you’re actually in bed you can also try to list things that you’re grateful for, or focus on your breathing. Whatever works for you –do it! Create a sleep routine and put it to the test.
- Ask a doctor.
If after using all these ideas, you still have trouble falling or staying asleep, please consult a specialist and take advantage of all the benefits a good night sleep has to offer.