A restful night’s sleep is good for anyone, but as we age, we can experience changes in our sleep patterns. Insomnia is a serious senior health issue, and is often caused by certain medications, anxiety and depression, stress, poor diet, and other health problems. Even a lack of sunlight can contribute to significant sleep problems for older adults. If you or a loved one is experiencing the restless nights, poor sleep quality, and daytime sleepiness associated with insomnia, follow this easy guide to help get more sleep naturally.
Keep track of your sleep
Consistency is key when it comes to sleeping well. Keep track of your sleep by logging details of what you did before, during, and after settling down for the night. What did you eat? Did you toss and turn or wake up in the middle of the night? Write it in your “sleep journal” to keep better track of your activities and pay attention to patterns.
Cut out afternoon caffeine
Caffeine stays in your system for hours, making it hard to fall asleep at your desired bedtime if you drink caffeinated beverages after about 2:00 p.m. Instead, snack on foods that have calcium and magnesium to get a better night’s rest. Foods like crackers and cheese, milk, or tea can help your nervous system settle down for the evening.
Exercising at regular times each day can help you wind down for the night and keep your overall health in great condition. Experts recommend seniors get about 30 minutes of light exercise 3-5 times each week. Be sure to exercise no later than 4 hours before your bedtime so that your body has fully cooled down from your activity.
Develop a soothing bedtime routine.
Whether you take a long bath or shower, read a book, meditate, or listen to music, be intentional about your activities before bedtime and use them to wind down and de-stress. Find a routine that works for you and remember to stick to it!
Invest in light therapy
Light therapy is another great way to get your body back to a normal sleep schedule. Bright lights from smartphone screens, televisions and tablets can cause digital eye strain and prevent you from feeling tired at your desired bedtime. However, light therapy can help one’s body “reset” its internal clock when it’s disrupted. Light therapy has also been successful in treating sleep problems in seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Special desk lamps or light boxes can be purchased and used throughout the day to help your body regulate its natural rhythms.