Sleep doesn’t always come easily for many people, especially older and senior adults. According to the National Institutes of Health, insomnia affects almost half of Americans ages 60 and older.
Seniors, like younger adults, need seven to nine hours of sleep each night for optimal health. But many don’t get an adequate amount of sleep for reasons that include stress, illness and medication side effects. Whatever the reason for sleeplessness, a poor night's sleep can leave you mentally and physically fatigued and erode your overall quality of life. So, take a moment to consider these quick tips for a better night’s sleep!
Keep your bedroom dark, cool and comfortable. Make sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable and give your body type the right kind of support. If you prefer silence when trying to sleep, try wearing special sleep earplugs. And if gentle noise relaxes you, try sleeping with a fan or noise maker.
Manage health conditions, such as congestive heart failure, arthritis and clinical depression. If you have a respiratory issue, such as sleep apnea, discuss with your doctor ways to facilitate your breathing during the night. And be mindful of any medications you are taking that might have stimulating side effects.
Create a healthy bedtime ritual. This can help remind your body that it's time to settle down and prepare for sleep. Try doing relaxing activities before bed, such as light reading or listening to meditative music. Also, try going to bed and waking up around the same time every day. And remember to avoid eating or exercising within two to three hours of bedtime.
Power off to power down. These days, entertainment is everywhere. There is a plethora of electronic devices and streaming services that keep us engaged and occupied. Most of the electronic devices we use have screens that emit blue light, which suppresses the brain's release of melatonin, the sleep-promoting hormone, according to Harvard Medical School.
To better prepare for a good night's sleep, shut off the TV, smartphone or tablet at least two hours before hitting the sheets. And if you do watch, try setting your devices to "night mode," which will reduce or eliminate the blue light your device puts out.
If your sleep problem is persistent or becomes severe, you may need to consult your physician to see if you have a sleep disorder that requires clinical treatment. Sleeplessness is not uncommon, and it can be a real burden for many people. But keeping health, comfort and routine in mind may help put those sleeping problems to bed.