As people age, their circadian rhythm changes, and they experience changes in the amount of sleep they need each night. In addition to needing more time to get to sleep and feeling groggier when waking up, Aging adults who are not sleeping well are at an increased risk of developing cognitive problems like Alzheimer’s disease. However, there are some things you can do to help your loved one sleep better at night. Learn top tips for better sleep in seniors that will help you get the rest you need to live an active and healthy life!
Follow a Consistent Bedtime Routine
One of the most essential components of a healthy sleep routine is consistency, especially for older adults who have different schedules during weekdays and weekends and those who work non-traditional hours or have frequent doctor appointments. To keep your body on a consistent sleep schedule, try going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day—even on weekends—to help your body maintain a regular circadian rhythm. Your doctor may also recommend a lightbox to simulate daylight if you have trouble falling asleep naturally due to reduced sunlight exposure (exposure to natural light can help regulate your internal clocks). If you’re not ready for prescription medication, then talk with your doctor about starting an exercise routine that incorporates moderate physical activity into your daily life.
Make Diet Changes
It’s time to cut out habits that are affecting your quality of sleep. Cut back on caffeine by avoiding caffeinated drinks after lunch, try to steer clear of sugar before bedtime, and limit your alcohol consumption. If you smoke, stop smoking. If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to one or two drinks per day. Finally, get rid of distractions like TV, computer games, and smartphones, which can keep you awake at night.
Consider Moving to a Quieter Location
The older we get, the less able we are to block out background noise—especially if it’s coming from an app-based device like a tablet or phone set up in your bedroom! Try moving your devices into another room so that they don’t distract you while trying to fall asleep.
Review Your Lifestyle
If you have a sleep problem, it could be due to your lifestyle. Many things can affect how well you sleep, including your diet, exercise habits, and even how much time you spend in front of a screen. If you have a difficult time getting to sleep or feel tired during the day, try making changes to your lifestyle to see if it helps. Start by writing down everything you do, from waking up to bedtime, including eating habits and exercise regime. Then look for patterns that might be affecting your quality of sleep—if something seems out of place or isn’t working for you, try changing it for a week and see if it makes any difference.
Relax before Bedtime
As you prepare to go to bed, relax your mind and body by taking a few deep breaths. Try some deep breathing exercises, which can help lower blood pressure as well as calm your nerves. A hot shower or warm bath is also a great way to relax before going to bed. And don’t forget to turn off those night lights—it may seem like a hassle, but those little lights can have an impact on your sleep cycle by throwing off melatonin production and making it harder for you to go to sleep! Remember: If you can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed, get up and do something relaxing until you feel tired again. Then try going back to bed!