As we age our sleeping patterns change and we tend to have a harder time switching off at night. Sleep is extremely important to both your physical and emotional health regardless of what age you are.
There’s a lot your body gets up to when you have a good nights sleep: memory formation, improved concentration, cell damage repair and refreshing your immune system. The benefits are plentiful, and therefore a lack of sleep can lead to consequences such as depression, attention and memory problems and even serious health problems like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
We put together some tips for ensuring you get a better nights sleep:
Tip 1: Consistency is Key
Sticking to a regular bedtime is a great way of getting your body back into the rhythm of good habits. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day, even on the weekends. This will hopefully get your body used to the routine.
Tip 2: Stress Less
It’s easier said than done, but stress and anxiety that build up during the day can also inhibit your sleeping patterns at night. That’s why it’s important to work out techniques of letting go of worries and stresses when it’s time to switch off. Try:
- Making a to-do list and checking off tasks when you complete them
- Listen to calming music
- Have a phone call with a friend before you go to sleep to vent about what’s troubling you and get it out of your system
- Read a book that makes you feel relaxed
- Keep a journal to note down your worries
Tip 3: Tire your body out
Exercise isn’t just for staying in shape, it also has the benefit of releasing chemicals in your body that promote a restful sleep. Even with mobility issues, there are a number of activities you can use to prepare yourself for sleep time. You can try:
- Dancing: If you’re a music lover, why not try a dance class? It’s also a great way of extending your social network and you can move at your own pace.
- Swimming/water exercises: this is a great gentle form of exercise to build up your fitness and isn’t hard on your sore joints or muscles. If you don’t love swimming, you can also try a water-based exercise class that combines exercise with fun!
- Walking: Going for a walk is a great way of getting outside and exerting yourself at your own pace. There are great physical benefits to going for walks, but it’s also paramount to your mental wellbeing.
Tip 4: You are what you eat
Are you a coffee drinker? It’s important to recognise what you’re putting in your body is doing for your sleep cycle. Here are some tips:
- Limit caffeine late in the day: that means avoiding coffee, soft drink and tea late in the day.
- Don’t eat huge spicy meals just before bedtime: this sort of food is harder to digest and may cause you discomfort. Try and eat a modest-size dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime.
- H2NO: Limit the amount of liquid you drink within the hour and a half before you sleep, this will hopefully mean less trips to the bathroom.
- You’re sweet enough already: eating a diet high in sugar and refined carbs like white bread, rice, pasta and lollies can cause restlessness at night.
- Don’t go to sleep hungry: Having a light snack before you sleep like a glass of warm milk or some yoghurt will keep the cravings quiet while you sleep.
Tip 5: Talk to a Doctor
If, after implementing the behavioural tips listed above, you are still experiencing significant sleep problems It could be due to an underlying disorder or the side effect of medication you are taking.
Try booking an appointment with a doctor to discuss the sleep issues you’re experiencing and the efforts you’ve taken to address them. That way together you can do an evaluation of your medication and try to find a suitable alternative with fewer side effects.
Sleep Tips for Older Adults – HelpGuide.org
How to Sleep Better as You Get Older – WebMD