It is not uncommon for people to experience changes in their sleep patterns as they age. Seniors tend to feel sleepy earlier in the day but have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep through the night. Such poor sleep can quickly turn into sleep deprivation, which can have significant — even dangerous — effects on a person’s life. The good news is, just because poor sleep is common among older adults doesn’t mean you have to accept it as a fact of life. Here are some tips for improving your sleep:
Get the best mattress.
The first thing you want to do is evaluate your mattress to decide if it is working for you. If your mattress is over eight years old, if you are not getting adequate sleep or if you are waking up with various aches and pains, chances are it is time to get a new one. Spots of wear or sagging, whether in the middle or on the edges of the mattress, can be another sign that you need to replace it.
There are a plethora of mattress options that cater to different body types, sleep needs and sleeping positions and everybody and their neighbor has an opinion about which kind is best. However, every person has different needs, and the most essential factor in choosing the right mattress is making sure it is comfortable for you.
Get ready for sleep.
Taking steps to prepare your body for sleep can go a long way in helping you rest more soundly. A couple hours before bedtime, try taking a hot bath or shower for about 20 minutes. Our bodies experience a dip in temperature throughout the night and raising your temperature in a bath before bed can cause a steeper drop, which can promote deeper sleep. Also, avoid stimulants including coffee and alcohol before bed and consider shutting down your electronics because the blue light from screens stimulates your brain and can interfere with sleep.
Furthermore, dimming your bedroom lights and purchasing an air purifier to remove allergens in the air can both lead to falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer. These efficient appliances improve the air quality in your home, especially if you have a cigarette smoker or wood-burning stove in your home. Most importantly, air purifiers can reduce your exposure to harmful secondhand smoke and other toxins that can lead to serious respiratory problems.
Eat for nutrition and be active.
Two of the most important factors in getting quality sleep as a senior are eating nutritiously and getting regular exercise. Much of how our bodies function depends on the food and drink we take in. If you fill your body with the right nutrients, you will have more energy throughout the day and you will recover better at night. Likewise, physical activity also provides more energy and sweeter rest. Avoiding excessive processed sugar and loading up on fruits and vegetables is always a good place to start with your diet. For exercise, start with walking 150 minutes per week and doing some type of muscle strengthening activity two days a week.
Talk to your doctor.
Finally, it is important to know when you should talk to your doctor. If you have trouble sleeping at least seven hours a night, or your sleep is frequently interrupted, you probably need to make some changes. Another sign of a problem is if you do sleep for seven hours a night and are still tired throughout the day. Moreover, if you struggle to perform daily tasks, snore loudly or stop breathing for increments throughout the night, there is likely a problem that needs to be addressed. If you notice any of these signs, you should consult your doctor immediately.
Remember, you do not have to accept sleep deprivation as a fact of life. If you are a senior who needs to get better sleep, then get a good mattress, prepare yourself for bedtime, eat well, exercise regularly, and consult your doctor if necessary. With a little determination and a willingness to make changes, better sleep is just around the corner.