Getting a good night’s sleep not only improves our next day, but also improves our health. Adequate sleep improves brain function, cellular turnover, and our immune systems. It can prevent us from getting diseases and slow the aging process. We spend one third of our lives sleeping. So why does it get more difficult as we get older, and what can we do to improve our sleep quality and quantity?
Why Sleep Evades the Elderly
The first thing to improving sleep as we age, is to understand why we have difficulties in the first place. As we age, our brain ages as well. And one of the parts of our brain affects our natural circadian rhythm. So our brain ages and actually loses track of our internal clock. We also tend to spend less time outside, seeing less sunlight and darkness, and our brains naturally create less melatonin and cortisol.
With age often comes physical and mental health conditions, and many of these can make sleep difficult as well. If you have heart or kidney issues, you may have to use the restroom at night, and have a hard time falling back asleep. If you’re depressed or anxious, you could struggle to turn your brain off. To combat the various physical and mental conditions, you may have to take medications which can also mess with your sleep.
If seniors are bored, depressed, or have their internal time messed up, sometimes they will nap throughout the day. If these naps are too long or too often, then they will struggle to sleep at night. All of these reasons create the perfect storm for imperfect sleep and a reduced quality of life.
How to Combat Sleep Struggles
There are a few more obvious tips to getting the sleep you crave. Exercise more, get outside often, and avoid caffeine and large meals close to bedtime. Try to curb water consumption a few hours before you head to bed so you won’t have to get up and use the restroom. And maintain a normal bedtime and standard wakeup time.
“Try to avoid the television, ipad, or cell phone which can actually keep our brains awake.”
Try to interact with other people throughout the day. It sounds silly, but social interaction has proven to improve sleep quality. Reduce overthinking or stress by writing out a list or keeping a journal, and then letting go of those thoughts at bedtime. Read to take your mind off your troubles, and reduce artificial lights. Try to avoid the television, ipad, or cell phone which can actually keep our brains awake.
Having a bedtime routine of sorts can also be helpful. Walk through the house to turn off lights, lock doors, and set the coffee maker for the next day. Playing calm music or meditating can also be beneficial.
Safety Measures To Consider
Once you’ve reclaimed your sleep, make it easier on yourself to stay asleep and stay safe. Have a light on your bedside table, or an easy ability to turn your overhead light on. Keep a glass of water handy so you don’t have to get up. Remove any tripping hazards such as area rugs or shoes. And keep a phone nearby in case of emergency.
Sleep is something I definitely take for granted personally. I can tell the difference between a six hour night or an eight hour night. When we sleep our bodies heal, our minds rest, and we set ourselves up for success the next day. If you’re struggling with sleep, try some of these methods and take control of your grogginess today.
“Our customers sleep well at night, knowing their retirement is protected and their family won’t be burdened.”
At LTC Consumer we give people peace of mind by helping them with long term care planning. Our customers sleep well at night, knowing their retirement is protected and their family won’t be burdened. Request a quote today, and have sweet dreams tomorrow.