Get Better, More Restorative Sleep with These Tips
By John Moreland
The older we get, the more we know that nothing ever stays the same. The changes that happen to our body with age extend to our physical habits -- for instance, how we sleep. A lot of us find that we have a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep than we used to. We may not enjoy sleep as much because of the aches and pains we feel upon waking. Furthermore, it can be difficult to get a good night’s rest if you have to wake up through the night to use the bathroom.
Yet with all these things disrupting sleep, older adults need just as much—if not more—rest as their younger counterparts. Sleep deprivation is especially troublesome for those with pre-existing health problems.
Effects of Sleep Deprivation for Seniors
Experts recommend older adults get seven to nine hours of sleep per night. When an older adult spends their nights tossing and turning, they feel it the next day. Lack of sleep affects a person’s concentration and memory, making it difficult for them to mentally function. Those who don’t get enough sleep are also more likely to develop depression and anxiety. Furthermore, there are links between not getting enough sleep and serious health problems including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, weight problems, diabetes and breast cancer in women.
Sleep deprivation and its various health complications don’t have to affect your life. Through smart sleep hygiene practices and healthy lifestyle choices, older adults can create a schedule that encourages sufficient rest that restores the body for the next day. Try these tips to prepare your body for the best sleep possible.
Tips for Better Sleep for Older Adults
Create a Schedule
As we age, a new circadian clock takes over and our sleep needs change. It is important to embrace these changes and adjust our schedules accordingly. Older adults get tired earlier in the evening and wake up earlier in the morning. With that in mind, pick a bedtime and a time to wake up and stick with those every day to train your body to get the rest it needs during a specific timeframe.
Try a New Mattress
If aches and pains make it more difficult to sleep, it may be time to invest in a new mattress. Older adults need to have “sufficient support to maintain neutral spine alignment, enough contouring to relieve pressure points (think heels, hips, shoulders), and some means for regulating body temperature.” Look for a mattress with a decent trial period as well as White Glove Delivery and setup services.
Stay Active During the Day
If you spend your day sitting around, your body isn’t expelling enough energy to tire itself out by the time you need to go to bed. Maintaining an active lifestyle during the day is the best way to encourage restorative sleep throughout the night. Try these age-friendly exercises that help burn energy without putting undue stress on your joints.
Limit Liquids at Night
If frequent bathroom trips in the middle of the night make it more difficult for you to stay asleep, limit your liquid intakes in the evenings. Consider cutting out alcohol and caffeine entirely as they are stimulants that affect the bladder specifically. Daily exercise also helps your body eliminate fluid wastes, easing the burden on your bladder entirely.
As we grow older and our bodies change, it can become more difficult to sleep. However, sleep deprivation has serious health risks that are especially harmful to older adults. Practicing good sleep hygiene can make it easier for them to get enough quality sleep without disturbances. A firm sleep schedule encourages the body to wind down on time. A good mattress can prevent aches and pains. Staying active and exercising burns energy so the body is tired enough to sleep by the end of the day. Finally, limiting liquids and cutting out stimulants helps older adults stay asleep instead of waking up throughout the night for trips to the bathroom.
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