Sleep On It

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.

  1. 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.

 

 

How To Sleep Better: Tips To Getting A Good Night’s Sleep

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How we feel during the day is directly related to how well we sleep at night.  If you have trouble getting to sleep each night, there simple things each of us can try to improve our ability to sleep at night.  Below are some suggestions:

  • Set a regular bed time: Go to bed at the same time each night.  Try to stick to this even during the weekends.  Choose a time that you would normally feel tired so you won’t toss and turn.
  • Wake up at the same time each day.  If you are in a good sleep routine, getting up at the same time each day will help keep the routine going.
  • Nap to make up for lost sleep. If you need to make up for lost sleep, try to take a nap during the day rather than sleeping late.
  • Be smart about napping. While napping can be a great way to recharge, for some, especially older adults, napping may make insomnia worse.  If you do nap, do it in the early afternoon and limit to 30 minutes.
  • Increase your light exposure during the day. Spend more time outside if possible and let as much light into your house as possible.
  • Turn off your TV or computer. Set a specific time each evening to turn off the TV and/or computer and stick with it.  Listen to music or read a good book instead.
  • Don’t read from a backlit devise just before bed. If using an e-reader that is backlit, turn off the light and use another source of lighting when reading.
  • Change the light bulbs in your bedroom. Eliminate bright light bulbs, use a lower wattage and try a bulb with more of a yellow cast rather than a blue cast to the light.  This helps your body relax and prepare to sleep.
  • Keep your bedroom cool and as dark as possible.
  • Cut down on caffeine in the evenings, try to avoid large meals just before bed and limit alcohol intake.

Not every tip above works for every person.  The important thing is to try to have a structure and routine to your evenings.  Try to begin to relax and prepare for bed, allowing your body time to wind down and begin to get ready for sleep.  Keep working at it till you find the right combination that works for you.