How to get a better night of sleep?

It’s pretty basic. People need healthy sleep to survive. Sleep  allows your body to repair itself and perform essential biological functions. Adults need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night, and that’s generally true for seniors as well. Changes in sleeping patterns are normal as we get older, but poor sleep or lack of sleep are not a natural part of aging. Frequent or prolonged bouts of sleep deprivation can cause serious health issues — poor cognitive function, increased inflammation and reduced immune function. If sleep deprivation continues, it may increase your risk for chronic disease. The flip side is that consistent, high-quality sleep can decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke in seniors, improve memory, and offer many other benefits. Here’s what to know and what to do to avoid sleep issues and sleep problems as you grow older.

What’s causing your sleep problems?

Good question. Illness, arthritis, back pain, or body aches can make it hard to sleep. Conditions like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome may be contributing factors. Sometimes medications may be keeping you awake. Simply having more downtime and being less active during the day can throw off your sleep-wake schedule. Financial worries or the death of a loved one can stress you to the point that it’s difficult to sleep. Whatever the reason, losing sleep leads to irritability, difficulty concentrating, a greater likelihood of falling, and other issues seniors can do without.

Insomnia is common in seniors

Insomnia is a disorder in which having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep occurs at least three nights a week for a minimum of 3 months. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, affecting between 6% and 10% of all adults. Insomnia is also the most common sleep problem in adults age 60 and older, and can last for days, months, and even years. Suffering from insomnia usually means:

·  Taking a long time to fall asleep
·  Waking many times during the night
·  Waking early and being unable to get back to sleep
·  Waking up tired
·  Feeling drowsy throughout the day

Being unable to sleep can become a cycle that builds on itself. Some people come to dread bedtime, worrying about not sleeping even before their head hits the pillow. Older adults who have trouble sleeping may try over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids, which may help temporarily, but aren’t a cure for insomnia.

10 tips to help seniors sleep better

Will counting sheep work for you? It might. Another way is to imagine your toes are completely relaxed, then your feet, then your ankles, all the way up the rest of your body, section by section. But drifting off to sleep is less the result of tricks than it is following certain guidelines throughout the day.

1. Expose yourself to natural light, which helps normalize your body’s production of melatonin. This is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in your brain that’s primarily responsible for regulating your body’s circadian rhythm to manage your natural sleep cycle.

2. Get regular physical activity, which will help you feel tired at night. Aim for at least 20 to 30 minutes a day about 5 or 6 hours before bedtime. Exercising too late in the day could affect your ability to sleep at night.

3. Avoid both alcohol and caffeine later in the day. Although alcohol is known to promote sleepiness, it can disrupt the quality of that sleep. Don’t drink right before bedtime. Drinking caffeinated beverages should cease long before that. It can take 6 hours for the effects of caffeine to clear your system.

4. Avoid foods disruptive to sleep. Heavy meals, spicy or fatty foods, carbonated drinks — these all take time to digest, and the digestive process can keep you awake. In general, try to eat your last meal several hours before bedtime. Too many liquids can also cause you to get up at night.

5. Stop looking at electronic screens an hour before bedtime. Sure, it’s easy to watch a movie or look at a computer screen right up until you hop in bed. But you should try to cultivate a different evening habit. The blue light from these screens can trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime and lower the production of melatonin.

6. Cultivate a more calming bedtime routine. Try any relaxing activity that helps your mind prepare for sleep. It might be reading, meditating, easy stretching, or taking a warm bath.

7. Create a pleasant sleep environment5. by having a comfortable mattress and pillow, and keeping the room between 60 and 67 degrees. Make sure the linens and bedding are appropriate for the season. The room should be completely dark and quiet. A small fan or humidifier can keep the air moving and cover any extraneous sounds from outside.

8. Be careful when and how long you nap. 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.

9. Observe a worry-free zone an hour before bed. Whatever may be weighing on your mind, put it on hold before bedtime. Jot down your primary concerns, set them on your desk, and forget about them until tomorrow.

10, Use your bedroom only for sleeping. After turning off the light, give yourself about 20 minutes to fall asleep. If you’re still awake and not drowsy, get out of bed and try reading in another room. When you feel sleepy, go back to bed.

Satisfying days and restful nights at Eagle Senior Living

An active, worry-free lifestyle is always conducive to a good night’s rest. You’ll find that and more at every Eagle Senior Living community. You’ll enjoy a full calendar of life-enriching activities and opportunities, while having the security of knowing additional support is right here if you need it. Discover all the living options we have for you at Eagle Senior Living. Contact us for details and to schedule a personal tour of the Eagle Senior Living community near you.