Natural Ways to Sleep Better at Night
By Matt Boyle
Sleep is such an important part of life and yet it can also be a bit complicated. Too little sleep is unhealthy and too much sleep can surprisingly make you even more tired, so getting just the right amount is key. Most healthy adults require 7.5 to nine hours of sleep per night and contrary to popular belief, that amount doesn’t change as you age. However, as you get older, sleep can be more difficult to come by. Below, we’ll talk about seven ways older adults can improve their length and quality of sleep.
Stick to a routine
Our bodies function best when they know what to expect, so it is best if you stick to a schedule. Going to bed and setting your alarm for a certain time every day can allow your internal clock to get on track with your preferred sleep schedule. Obviously, there are times when you need to stay up later or get up earlier, but in general, stick to a routine to get better sleep.
Limit use of technology
While technology is entertaining and useful in many ways, using screens with blue light can impact the brain to mess with the sleep signals that make us tired. Avoiding television, computer use or cell phone usage around bedtime is one way to encourage your brain to go to sleep.
Get physical exercise
Exercise is good for our bodies for so many reasons and one of those is improving sleep. If you’re looking to get more sleep or maybe just improve your levels of REM sleep, make sure to get at least 30 minutes of activity per day. Go for a walk, go swimming, or visit your local gym to help improve your rest when you hit the hay.
Learn about your medications
Most older adults take medication for one thing or another and oftentimes may not realize the side effects. Unfortunately, lack of sleep is a side effect for many medications that many take so it is important to research or consult your doctor to see if that is a side effect that could be affecting you.
Brighten up your day.
Make sure to get some sunlight, take a walk outdoors, sit on an outdoor patio or enjoy some sunshine by reading a book next to a window. All in all, make sure to allow your body access to sunshine. This helps your internal clock to understand awake hours by including sunshine and sleeping hours are when it’s dark outside.
Avoid bad habits
There are a lot of bad habits we pick up over the years. Consuming large amounts of caffeine, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol are a few bad habits that can inhibit your sleep as you get older. If these aren’t things you can cut out of your life, try to limit them to the morning hours so they don’t impact your sleep.
See a doctor
There are also a few serious sleep conditions that could be impacting your sleep, including sleep apnea, insomnia or restless leg syndrome. One study found that 23 to 24 percent of older adults reported symptoms of insomnia. If you think you have these conditions or are experiencing serious sleep issues, see your physician for personalized care.
Some older adults turn to sleeping pills for relief when they just can’t get enough sleep. While prescribed and properly used sleeping pills can be very effective, if they are used long term or improperly, they can quickly become dangerous. If you’re experiencing sleep conditions that require narcotics, it is important to follow the instructions and if you feel you need help with an addiction, reach out to your primary care doctor, or contact a recovery facility to learn more.
Author: Matthew Boyle is the Chief Operating Officer at Landmark Senior Living, a series of top rated Assisted Living Facilities in the midwestern United States. He has been working in the healthcare space for 7 years and graduated from Duke University in 2011 Summa Cum Laude. Guided by a relentless pursuit of excellence, Matthew and the team at Landmark are dedicated to creating a supportive environment for the elderly.