Considering that we spend so much of our lives (around one-third of it) sleeping, you think we would get better at it as we age!
But studies show that, oftentimes, the opposite is true – especially as we age.
Sleep is important for us as we age because it reduces our risk for both physical and mental decline. With some, the reason for not sleeping enough is physical. For others, the causes can be mental or emotional. It can also be a combination of the two.
Regardless of why you might not be getting as much sleep as you need, there are some things that you can do to improve the quality of your shuteye.
- Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule
As we age, our circadian rhythms can naturally change – usually toward going to sleep earlier and waking up earlier. If you find this happening to you, do not try to fight the urge, and stay up later, like you used to. Rather, try your best to follow your body’s rhythms – and if maybe that means you must record a TV show or two that you miss. Likewise, if you’re traveling, on vacation or visiting friends and family for the weekend, do your best to keep to your sleep schedule the same.
- Avoid Bright Screens in the Hour or Two Before Going to Sleep
Whether it’s your smart phone, laptop, tablet, or television - these electronic devices all emit a certain kind of blue light that cues your body that it’s time to wake up. This light will suppress your body’s natural production of melatonin, which will make it harder to fall, and stay, asleep. To wind down and quiet your mind before bedtime, it’s better to read a book in low light, or listen to soft, soothing sounds.
Here are a few of our favorite playlists.
- Avoid Daytime Napping!
Who doesn’t love the idea of snoozing on a rainy day or nodding off by the pool? But just know that, if you give in to the temptation, you’ll likely have to pay for it with difficulty getting to sleep that night. Same goes for post-dinner drowsiness: Fight the urge to lie down and, instead, go for a brisk walk.
- Limit – or, Better Yet, Eliminate – Your Caffeine Consumption.
Caffeine – be it coffee or soda – is a stimulant! That’s why so many people drink it in the morning for a quick pick-me-up. But drinking too much of it, or drinking it too late in the day, can affect your ability to fall asleep that night. Another substance to be careful with is alcohol. Depending on how it affects your system, consuming alcohol or wine could negatively impact the quality of your sleep – even if you fall asleep right away.
- Get a Full Health Screening for Sleep-Related Disorders
Certain physical conditions – such as restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea – can wreak havoc with your ability to sleep at night. You might now even know you have it, so have your physician check for it or call our office for a list of resources.
Likewise, other physical conditions – such as being overweight or in pain – can also interrupt your sleep schedule. Often, when you rectify an underlying physical issue, one of the results is an improvement in sleep.
Know When to Contact Your Doctor
Nearly everyone has an occasional sleepless night — but if you often have trouble sleeping, contact your doctor. Identifying and treating any underlying causes can help you get the better sleep you deserve.
Health & Wellness Services Offered by Envision
Healthy aging is entirely possible, and many senior citizens find that their golden years are some of the best years of their lives. At Envision Health Partners, we focus on health aging through a variety of senior wellness services such as home health, rehab, and senior fitness classes. We offer non-emergency medical services to ensure all healthcare needs of our residents are continually being met, and fitness programs to keep seniors active and socially engaged.