There’s an Irish Proverb that says: “A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.”
I’m no morning person and if I don’t get my rest…I am even less charming. It’s so true that sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on anyone. According to the National Institute on Aging, “Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as all adults—7 to 9 hours each night. But, older people tend to go to sleep earlier and get up earlier than they did when they were younger.” Lack of sleep isn’t good for anyone. But in the elderly it can be particularly troublesome.
Senior citizens with sleep deprivation are at a higher risk for:
- Having more cognitive issues and memory problems
- Mood problems such as depression and irritability
- Increased risk of falling and other accidents
But just because you are in the older age demographic does not mean that you can’t be proactive about your sleep.
Here are 6 Steps to Better Sleep from the Mayo Clinic.
1. Stick to a sleep schedule
Set aside no more than eight hours for sleep. The recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult is at least seven hours. Most people don’t need more than eight hours in bed to achieve this goal. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
2. Pay attention to what you eat and drink
Don’t go to bed hungry or stuffed. In particular, avoid heavy or large meals within a couple of hours of bedtime. Your discomfort might keep you up. Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol deserve caution, too.
- Create a restful environment
Create a room that’s ideal for sleeping. Often, this means cool, dark and quiet. Exposure to light might make it more challenging to fall asleep. Avoid prolonged use of light-emitting screens just before bedtime. Consider using room-darkening shades, earplugs, a fan or other devices to create an environment that suits your needs.
4. Limit daytime naps
Long daytime naps can interfere with nighttime sleep. If you choose to nap, limit yourself to up to 30 minutes and avoid doing so late in the day. If you work nights, however, you might need to nap late in the day before work to help make up your sleep debt.
5. Include physical activity in your daily routine
Regular physical activity can promote better sleep. Avoid being active too close to bedtime, however. Spending time outside every day might be helpful, too.
6. Manage worries
Try to resolve your worries or concerns before bedtime. Jot down what’s on your mind and then set it aside for tomorrow.
Working towards developing good sleep patterns can result in better health. But always be sure to report your sleep concerns to your physician. They can help determine if medications or a medical condition are a factor that may need intervention.