Many individuals find it difficult to sleep properly at night as they age. Sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, snoring, restless leg syndrome, and periodic limb disorder often make it challenging for seniors to fall asleep and stay asleep, leaving them too exhausted to enjoy their daylight hours. If you’ve been struggling to achieve a good night’s sleep, try following these 10 tips for a better nighttime slumber.
1. Establish a routine.
Your body has difficulty adjusting to even minor changes in your sleep schedule. If
you wake up and go to bed later on weekends than you do during the week, it can throw
off your whole system. It’s important to develop a consistent day-to-day routine to ensure
that your body doesn’t confuse day and night.
2. Nap carefully.
While long naps negatively impact your body clock, short snoozes ranging from 15 to 45
minutes may provide a healthy energy boost for some people. If you do take a nap, in
addition to keeping it short, try to nap earlier in the day in a dark, quiet room.
3. Make your bed a sleep-only space.
Doing activities other than sleeping in your bed can make it harder to fall asleep when
bedtime arrives. Make sure to use a couch or chair to read and watch TV so when you
get into bed, your body knows it’s time for sleep and not entertainment.
4. Keep it comfortable.
Creating a relaxing space in your bedroom is key to falling asleep without spending the night
tossing and turning. If your mattress, blanket, or pillows feel too stiff or too soft, it’s
probably time to invest in some replacements. Also, be sure to keep your room dark, as light can distract your sleep. You may want to consider hanging up blackout curtains to prevent light sources from outside coming in through your window.
5. Get some peace and quiet.
Distracting noises can also keep you up all night, although moderate levels of white
noise may be helpful for some. If you live in a noisy home or neighborhood, a quality pair of earplugs can make a world of difference. If you find that you need a little bit of noise to relax, try turning on a fan or setting up a sound machine.
6. Monitor your diet.
Sometimes, all it takes to sleep better is healthier eating and drinking habits. Avoid eating
heavy, spicy, or sugary foods close to bedtime, but don’t go to bed on an empty stomach
either. A small, light snack should keep your stomach from growling throughout the night.
As for beverages, while it’s important to stay hydrated, don’t drink so much water that
you’ll feel the need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. Also, wait a few hours
after drinking alcohol to go to bed. Caffeine should either be avoided entirely or
consumed more than eight hours before bedtime.
7. Exercise regularly.
If you don’t move your body throughout the day, you probably won’t feel tired when
night rolls around. Incorporating exercises like yoga, walking, dancing, or swimming into your daily routine not only helps you become stronger and healthier but also makes it easier to fall asleep.
High stress levels can keep you up worrying all night and result in unpleasant dreams when you
finally do fall asleep. Relaxing activities like reading, taking a bath, listening to soothing
music, and deep breathing techniques can provide a much-needed break from all of life’s
troubles and prepare your brain to turn off for the night.
9. Keep a sleep diary.
It’s often hard to keep track of every aspect of your nightly routine, but writing things
down can help. Keep a log documenting your meals, exercise, and activities throughout the day, and when you wake up in the morning, write about how well (or not so well) you slept. After several days, going back and reading your entries may help you see a pattern you hadn’t noticed before and lead you to the root of your sleep problems.
10. Consult your doctor.
If you’re still having sleep troubles after trying these tips, it’s time to schedule an
appointment with your doctor. They may prescribe medications or other sleep aids to help you rest properly or refer you to a sleep specialist for extra assistance.