Getting a good night’s rest is one of the most important things you can do for your overall health. Lack of quality sleep has been linked to a variety of health problems, including memory issues, a weakened immune system, weight gain, impaired concentration, and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.
While sleep issues can occur at any age, senior adults may experience age-related disturbances in their sleep patterns including problems falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up feeling tired each day. In some instances, sleep issues can be addressed by making a few simple lifestyle adjustments. Here are a few healthy and natural tips to make falling – and staying – asleep a little easier for older adults.
Avoid drinking fluids close to bedtime
Drinking fluids too close to your intended bedtime can disrupt your sleep cycle. Some older adults may also develop an overactive bladder related to certain medical conditions or medications that cause them to wake up throughout the night. While you should drink enough water during the day to avoid the risk of dehydration, it’s a good idea to limit your fluid intake before bed, especially drinks containing caffeine.
Eat your way to a better night’s sleep
Did you know that the foods you eat can affect your ability to sleep through the night? Along with avoiding food and drinks with caffeine, it’s a good idea to limit your sugar intake in the late afternoon because it can keep you from falling asleep later on. Some foods contain substances that can actually help you fall asleep and stay asleep naturally, including cherries, walnuts, cheese, turkey, sweet potatoes, honey, and almonds. Try reaching for one of these naturally sleep-inducing snacks no later than 30 minutes before bedtime to prevent indigestion.
Follow a bedtime routine
Poor sleep quality can also be caused by an inconsistent bedtime routine. Some people also find that adhering to a daily schedule helps them establish a healthier sleep pattern and regulate their sleep. Most seniors in assisted living facilities follow a set schedule when it comes to meals and other daily activities, which helps them maintain a sense of consistency every day and feel well rested by bedtime. Whether it’s by reading before bed, taking a relaxing bath, or listening to calming music, following a set bedtime routine can help seniors wind down for the evening and prepare for a full night of sleep.
Avoid blue lights before bed
Prolonged exposure to blue light from screens on cell phones, tablets, TVs, or laptops can keep you up late at night and disrupt your natural sleep rhythm. Studies find that blue wavelengths increase energy, attention, and reaction time, all of which can inhibit your ability to sleep at night. At least two hours before bed, avoid looking using electronics with bright screens or use special glasses that filter blue light protect your eyes from the screen’s lights.
Consult your health care provider
Everyone deserves a good night’s sleep! If you’re having persistent problems falling asleep or staying asleep, or if you frequently wake up feeling tired, talk to your doctor. You can even record your sleep patterns in a sleep diary to share with your doctor. In some cases, sleep disturbances are caused by or linked to health conditions such as respiratory problems, thyroid disease, heart disease, depression, anxiety, or chronic pain. Your health care provider will help you treat the problem or refer you to a sleep expert that specializes in with sleep medicine.