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6 Steps to Help Older Adults Stay Well-Rested

Jul 20 2018

By Hazel Bridges, Agingwellness.org


Photo Credit: Pixabay

Staying well rested is an important goal for everyone, but many older adults find it hard to get a good night’s sleep. Whether it’s due to anxiety, pain, or discomfort, lack of sleep can have serious consequences. Use these tips to help you get the rest you need.

Pick Out a Supportive Mattress

When you go to bed, you want to make sure you have a mattress that will offer the support you need. The best mattresses for older adults 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. You don’t want a mattress that will cause additional pain in your body or make it difficult to get to sleep. Read up on reviews so you find a mattress that will work for you.

Avoid That Afternoon Coffee

If you’re having that cup of coffee to wake up in the morning or relax in the afternoon, you may be keeping yourself from getting to sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant that can stay in your system for several hours, meaning that 1:00 PM cup of joe could be what’s keeping you up at night. Try to limit your coffee and caffeine consumption to the morning hours. If having afternoon or evening coffee will help you feel more at ease, consider switching over to decaffeinated coffee or herbal tea instead. And be aware of foods that contain hidden caffeine and avoid them at night.

Get a Workout in During the Day

When you’re running low on sleep, you may be tempted to skip out on exercise. But getting daily exercise and maintaining a healthy diet are important for your overall health and can even impact your sleep. If you have access to a gym, spend a half hour or so on a stationary bike while you watch your morning news. No gym around? Go for a nice, calming walk in the mornings or evenings, and pick up some inexpensive home gym equipment to keep your joints and muscles in good shape.

Write Out Your Worries

Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life, but if your worries are getting in the way of your rest, then you need a way to get them out of your head. Get a journal or notebook and write down your worries every single night. If you have tasks to complete tomorrow, write those down as well. You want your mind as relaxed and empty as possible before you get into bed. To relax yourself a little more, use a short bedtime meditation practice to put your mind at ease.

Create Comfort in Your Bedroom

You need to feel comfortable in your room if you want to get restful sleep. If outside noise is a problem, think about getting a noise machine or fan to add to your room. Keep the temperature of your bedroom cooler, if possible, to help your body fall asleep faster. You need darkness to sleep as well, so add curtains that block out external light, or use a sleep mask to keep your eyes relaxed. 

Get Help if You Need It

When you’re not sleeping enough at night, your immune system and body becomes weaker. To avoid any serious physical or mental health issues, talk to a healthcare provider if you are having issues getting to sleep. If chronic pain is the problem, your doctor can give you tips to relieve it. There may even be medications that can help you relax and get to sleep. Just take care to use the medications only as directed.

If your sleep is suffering, it can make it hard to truly enjoy your golden years. So, take some steps to improve your sleep and know when it’s best to get help. A good sleep routine can keep you healthy and happy, so make it a priority to get the sleep you need at night.

Hazel Bridges is the creator of AgingWellness.org, a website that aims to provide health and wellness resources for aging seniors. She’s a breast cancer survivor, who challenges herself to live life to the fullest and hopes to inspire others to do so as well.