Five Tips to Improve Sleep for Older Adults
As we grow older, getting a good night’s sleep becomes increasingly important for our physical and emotional well-being.
Getting a good night’s rest can prevent or alleviate problems with insomnia, disturbed sleep and feeling tired in the morning. It also helps repair our bodies every night, which is why it is especially important for seniors who have heightened vulnerability to disease and physical discomfort.
If you’re looking to improve the quality of sleep for you or your senior loved one, read on below and try these 5 helpful tips:
1. Stay Active During the Day
Did you know that a good night’s sleep is easier to achieve when you exercise every day? It’s true!
Exercising for just 30 minutes a day can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly through the night. This is because exercise helps to reduce stress, which in turn improves your quality of sleep.
Daily exercise also helps to regulate your body temperature. This is important because a high body temperature can make it harder to fall asleep.
A word of advice, though: If you exercise in the evening, try doing it at least four hours before bedtime. This will give your body time to cool down and relax before hitting the hay. If you exercise right before bed, you may find yourself tossing and turning.
Do what you can to encourage your senior loved one to be physically active each day. Change up the routine, make it fun, or join in on the workout—whatever will help motivate them and keep things interesting!
2. Set a Bedtime Routine
You can help regulate your body’s sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up around the same time each day. Yes, this includes the weekends too!
Each morning, make it a goal to get up when your alarm goes off. It may be tempting to hit the snooze button, but this only makes it harder to fall back asleep later that night. And if you sleep in on the weekends, make sure to go back to bed at a similar time as soon as possible.
Going to bed at the same time each night can help you get into a regular sleep pattern. It can condition your body to become tired when it’s supposed to, and help you stay asleep better. If you go to bed at different times each night, your body will not be able to get used to the schedule, and this will make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
If your loved one is forgetful or needs help getting to bed on time, set an alarm to remind them that it’s time to start winding down.
You can also use a soothing sleep activity to prepare you for bed, like taking a hot bath, listening to music, or meditating to wind down and relax. If your loved one has trouble falling asleep, try to stay away from nighttime activities that are stimulating and hard to stop doing. This means turning off the television and computer before bedtime, not having electronics in your bedroom (such as a TV), or reading a book.
3. Go to Bed Earlier & Limit Naps
Going to bed earlier could be the simple solution you’re looking for if you just can’t seem to get enough sleep! Adjust your bedtime one to two hours earlier to sleep longer. If you’re feeling tired even earlier, don’t try and hold on until later – just go to sleep.
During the day, limit naps as much as possible. This will help you get better sleep at night, which is what you’re after.
If you are using a nap as a way to get through the day and have been doing so for quite some time, try to cut back on its length a little bit at a time, this way you can stay awake longer during the day, and sleep better at night.
If you absolutely must nap, limit it to no more than 20 minutes and make sure you do it as early in the day as possible so that it doesn’t interfere with your nighttime sleep – this can help you feel more rested when it’s time to go to bed at night.
4. Minimize Distraction in the Bedroom
To help your body stay on a healthy sleep schedule and start relaxing when it’s time for bed, you can also make your brain associate the bedroom with sleep and relaxation.
To do this, avoid using devices like your phone, TV, computer, tablet, and other distracting electronics. Try to put them away at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep.
Putting away these distractions away, may be simple to understand, but sometimes they are hard to commit to. It may take some discipline, but it’s important to stick to it if you want to sleep better and more soundly.
Avoid using your bedroom during the day, so you can train your body to associate your bedroom with relaxation and sleep. When it’s finally time to go down for bed, remember to keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool to get better sleep.
5. Limit Items Before Going to Sleep
Avoid consuming caffeine in the evenings or when it’s getting too close to your bedtime – you don’t want to be kept awake at night.
Caffeine is a stimulant, so it keeps you awake and alert. Over time, it can build up in your system and cause sleep problems like insomnia. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, try avoiding caffeine at night or cutting back on the amount of coffee you drink during the day.
Similarly, limiting your intake of any liquid is a good thing to ensure you’re not getting up frequently for a bathroom break.
Cut out large meals or too much sugar before going to bed to avoid wakefulness and indigestion. If you tend to have problems with indigestion or heartburn, or you are hungry before bed, try eating a small snack such as crackers, toast or cheese about an hour before going to sleep instead of a large meal.
These tips are just a few of the great ways you can help your senior loved one sleep better at night. If you still need more advice on how to get a better night’s sleep, we’re standing by to help! Feel free to call our experts today for guidance, and to learn about our senior care programs here at Home Care Assistance!
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