According to the National Institute on Aging, insomnia is the most common sleep problem in older adults over the age of 60. Insomnia may contribute to irritability, stress, high blood pressure, and even serious health problems like heart disease and strokes. Fortunately, the most common causes of insomnia can be easily addressed with a few lifestyle changes. If you’re finding it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night, follow these expert sleep tips to get a better night’s rest.
Check your diet
Is your diet to blame for your poor sleep problems? A good first step is to avoid food and drinks containing caffeine or excess sugar in the afternoon, which can keep you up later than you intend. Foods such as walnuts, almonds, cheese and chamomile tea can help you fall asleep naturally and sleep more soundly.
Exercising during the day helps seniors fall asleep quicker and get more quality sleep throughout the night. Experts recommend seniors exercise for 30 minutes a few times each week, and even light physical activity such as taking a brisk walk or a joining in a group exercise class can make a big difference. Many senior living communities have fitness centers, free exercise classes, and paved walking trails to make it easier for older adults to get their daily exercise.
Follow a sleep schedule
It is a common misconception that we need less sleep as we get older. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults require at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night. However, older adults often experience changes in their internal clock that cause them to go to bed and rise earlier. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, try setting a consistent bedtime routine each night to allow your body to adjust to a sleep schedule. Some seniors may also benefit from a short nap during the day to make up for sleep problems throughout the night.
Establish a sleep environment
When it comes to getting a great night’s sleep, comfort is key. Ensure your sleep environment is free from distracting noises or bright lights, which can keep you up all night tossing and turning. Some people experience better quality sleep in cooler temperatures, so try lowering your bedroom’s thermostat. Finally, avoid using electronics such as smartphones, tablets, or laptops before bed, as the bright light may prevent you from feeling tired at bedtime. Many people enjoy falling asleep to the soothing sounds of a fan, air purifier, or white noise machine.
Talk to your doctor
If you’re having persistent sleep troubles, don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor about your concerns. Sleep disorders such as insomnia may be the result of underlying health conditions. Your doctor can help you diagnose and treat the problem or refer you to a sleep specialist.