The frustration of sleep deprivation or insomnia is a common occurrence for many, but for seniors a good night’s sleep can be particularly evasive. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation found in a 2003 poll that an astounding 44% of older adults reported they had experienced symptoms of insomnia twice a week or more. So with aging and sleep often at odds with each other, how can older adults get a better night’s rest?
While changes in sleep patterns are often part of the aging process, excessive sleeplessness can become a contributing factor to serious conditions such as depression or dementia. The good news is that there are strategies that can help older adults sleep more soundly. We’ve put together six tips for getting a better night’s sleep:
Spend Time Outdoors
Enjoying fresh air and sunlight during the day can go a long way to helping your sleep patterns at night because it helps to regulate your body’s natural rhythm and reminds your body what time it is. To improve your chances of a good sleep further get some exercise while you’re outside – a brisk walk or a swim will help you feel tired when it’s time for bed.
Pay Attention to Diet
Filling your plate with nutrient-rich foods, lean proteins and heart-healthy fats can contribute to a great night’s sleep. It’s also a good idea to stock up on fruits, which contain minerals that help relax your muscles and get you to sleep faster. Right before bed, try sipping a warm drink, such as heated milk or (non-caffeinated) tea, to help regulate the production of melatonin. To learn more, check out A Place for Mom’s information on five foods that fight senior insomnia.
Stick to a Routine
Getting into a schedule and a bedtime routine will help your body’s natural time keeping mechanism sync up. By regularly going to bed at the same time, your body will be more ready to head to sleep.
Reduce Your Stress
Having too much on your mind can be a burden when you go to bed. If you’re feeling too busy, prioritize what’s important and delegate if you have to. If stress and anxiety are keeping you up, try meditating before bed to clear the mind. Finally, if daily tasks have become too difficult, consider hiring a caregiver who can help with transportation, errands, or housekeeping.
Consult Your Doctor
If you continue to have a difficult time falling or staying asleep talk to your doctor in order to rule out any underlying medical conditions. Certain medications can also contribute to sleeplessness, so be sure to check with your doctor about side effects to medications you may be taking.
Create an Environment for Sleep
Many of us do not “hit the hay” in a sleep-friendly environment. Make sure you have a dark and quiet space. Turn off the television to reduce light and sound, and place any pets that might disturb you in another room. And lie down! Preferably in a bed, rather than curling up on the couch or trying to fall asleep in your reclining chair.
With some forethought and planning you will be sleeping better in no time.
At Seniors At Home we care deeply about the wellbeing of all older adults. For more information related to depression, dementia, or home care, call our free information line at 415-449-3700