Sleep is just as important to our physical and emotional health as it was when we were younger. Margaret Thatcher only needed 4 hours sleep a night, Barack Obama required (whilst President) 6 hours but the National Sleep Federation has calculated that adults usually require between 7 and 9 hours a night. Research demonstrates that our sleep needs remain constant throughout adulthood however changes in the patterns of our sleep occur as we age and this may contribute to sleep problems particularly for seniors this could be as a result of many things one being more medication being prescribed to seniors.
These tips can help you overcome age-related sleep problems and get a good night’s rest.
Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day, even on weekends.
Keep busy. Social activities, seeing the family, volunteering or learning something new can all help exercise the mind and tire it out for the night. Maybe a regular trip out with your CAREGiver could be scheduled.
Don’t watch TV or look at a tablet or computer for an hour before bedtime. Doing these activities can suppress melatonin levels and affect subsequent sleep.
Use diet and exercise to improve sleep. Two of the daytime habits that most affect sleep are diet and exercise. As well as eating a healthy diet during the day, it’s particularly important to watch what you eat in the hours before bedtime. Do not have heavy meals in the evening as your body will be trying to break these down as you are trying to sleep. If you have a light supper around 6pm you may get hungry in the night so before going to bed have a sleep inducing snack such as a milky drink.
Evaluate your room. Your bedroom should be cool (between 60 and 67 degrees), quiet and free from any light. If your curtains let in too much light consider buying some blackout linings or wearing an eye sleep mask, if the room is noisy consider using ear plugs. Your mattress and pillows must be comfortable. Make sure your bed is welcoming, our CAREGivers can make your bed daily and change the bedding regularly.
Develop soothing bedtime rituals. Taking a bath, playing music, or practicing a relaxation technique such as meditation or deep breathing can help you wind down.
Limit caffeine late in the day. Avoid caffeine (from coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate) late in the day.
Minimize liquid intake before sleep. Limit what you drink within the hour and a half before bedtime.
Keep a pad of paper and a pen next to your bed. Keep a pad of paper and a pen by your bedside and if you wake remembering something you must do then write it down so you don’t worry about forgetting it through the rest of the night.
Get out into the sunshine. Sunshine regulates melatonin levels and hence affects sleep cycles. Try to get outside for a little while every day. When at home, open the curtains during the day and move your chair into a sunny spot of the room. Our CAREGivers are there to help you and will be happy to accompany you outdoors.
It is important to remember that just because you are sleeping less, it doesn't necessarily mean you have sleep ‘problems’. However, if you are not sleeping well, having to get up frequently at night, or not waking up feeling refreshed, consider visiting the doctor for more advice and information.