How Older Adults Can Get Better Sleep Now

Published: July 6th, 2018
Author: First & Main
Category: Articles

The older we get, the more elusive sleep can seem. Sleepless nights don’t need to be inevitable, however. Here are some steps you can take to getting your best night’s sleep.

Get the Right Gear

If you’re uncomfortable at night, you will likely have issues falling asleep. To sleep well, get the best gear for how you rest. Many Americans choose to sleep with a duvet, but in warmer months, this can be burdensome due to heat. If you need a duvet to sleep, due to habits or comfort, have multiple to rotate. If the weather is warm, choose a lightweight duvet. If it is cold, then have something thicker to keep you comfortable. 

If your pillow is old, it may not support your head the way it used to. It may be time to invest in a replacement. Make sure the one you get is made for your preferred sleep position for optimal coziness. If your mattress is lumpy, you should change it. Make sure that you test it out prior to buying to ensure you find the best one. If you live in a noisy area, or need some gentle background sound to drift off, a noise machine may be a good solution to help ease you to sleep.

Nightly Ritual

Our bodies go through a cooling process in the evening to help us prepare for sleep. There are ways you can help your body get ready and give yourself a good shot at deep sleep. According to Doctor Joyce Walsleben, you could take a hot bath two hours before bed to raise your internal temperature. The sudden drop in temperature as your body cools may help you enter and sustain deep sleep. To really give yourself a boost, lower your thermostat to make your rooms cooler. A cool environment can help your body stay in its sleep cycle. 

You should also be gradually making your surroundings darker as it gets closer to bedtime to signal to your brain it’s time to sleep. It may be tempting to spend time in the evening on your tablet or watching television, but resist the temptation. The light from screens may keep your brain active. Instead, do something relaxing to help your mind unwind.

Diet and Exercise

You might be surprised to learn how your diet and exercise can affect sleep. Most people know to avoid caffeine in the afternoon, and that alcohol can interfere with deep sleep, but did you know that adding tart cherry juice to your diet can aid sleep? It has a high percentage of melatonin, the chemical that helps us sleep. Don’t eat too late at night, and avoid large quantities of water before bed as the urge to go can wake you up and make going back to sleep difficult. 

Consistent exercise may help you be restful at night, but be aware that it may take a few weeks to take effect. If you have anxiety or find stress keeps you awake, exercise may appear to make your sleep worse at first. However, persistence is key. Many have found that after their bodies acclimated to the exercise, they were able to sleep better.

Take a Nap

Not only can naps help improve your immune system, but also it can help you stay alert during the day. Research investigated several benefits of napping, including better focus, improvement in mood and performance. However, naps should not be longer than 30 minutes: The longer the nap, the higher the risk of falling into a deep sleep, making it hard for you to wake up. So, if you feel drowsy during the day, don’t put off a nap thinking that it will keep you up later. Just remember to set an alarm. 

Conversely, if you make these changes, and still don’t see an improvement, or if you experience excessive daytime drowsiness, you should speak to your doctor about sleep disorders.

Sleeping doesn’t have to be difficult. If you take these steps, you may find it easier to sleep deeply. Tweak your diet and your nightly regimen, and you may see drastic results.


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