Poor sleep, or not getting enough sleep, can certainly make a person grumpy and irritable. Sleep loss can also have a big impact on your health, making you more susceptible to sickness and more serious conditions like depression. Getting a good night’s sleep every night is very important for general health and wellness, and that’s as true for seniors as it is for anyone else.
As we age, sometimes it can be harder to get a full night’s rest. Many seniors are more sensitive to environmental factors that can interrupt sleep, such as noise and temperature. Sometimes older adults struggle with feeling tired and wanting to go to bed very early and then waking up very early, which can interfere with normal routine and family activities. It’s important to know that these changes in sleep are common as we age, but that doesn’t mean you should live with poor sleep.
Here are some things you can do to improve your sleep and ensure a full night’s rest:
Exercise is very important for a quality, restful sleep. Exercising regularly, as little as 10 minutes per day, helps you fall asleep faster and wake up feeling more rested. Exercise reduces stress and helps you expend energy, making it easier to fall asleep. Exercising outdoors also helps regulate your circadian rhythm through exposure to the sun. Exercise at the same time of day if possible, no more than three hours before bedtime.
Want to sleep better? Make sure you have social time with family and friends. Isolation among seniors leads to anxiety, depression and other health issues that can all affect sleep. Staying social is important to senior health and can help you improve the quality of your sleep.
Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature, and keep in mind that 70 degrees tends to be ideal sleeping temperature. If you like to keep your home on the warm side, be sure to turn down the thermostat at night to ensure a restful sleep.
Phones, tablets and TVs all give off a type of artificial blue light that can negatively impact our sleep. This type of light depletes melatonin, the hormone that helps you fall and stay asleep. Give yourself a good chance at a good night’s sleep and turn off all screens at least 30-60 minutes before you turn out the light. Instead, read a book or take a hot bath. Nighttime rituals help signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep.
Be sure to get some exposure to daylight every day. This will help your body maintain your circadian rhythm, or natural sleep cycle. Spending time outdoors and making sure your home gets plenty of natural light are both good ways to boost your light exposure. Natural light in the afternoon is especially helpful to maintaining a sleep schedule.
Sleep is a basic and important element of your health. Making sure you are getting seven to eight quality hours of sleep per night is a good investment in your health!