We expect our bodies to change as we age, and many older adults assume that poor sleep is one of those unavoidable changes that come with aging. Some changes to your sleep cycle are normal, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept poor sleep as inevitable. When you understand what’s going on, it’s entirely possible for most older adults to get better sleep. It’s
also important to know what isn’t normal — and when you should call your doctor. Leandra Ramm presents some tips seniors can use to achieve better sleep.
Your Mattress Matters
Sleeping on a quality mattress that is right for your body is the foundation of a good night’s sleep. You’ll need to select a mattress that fits your sleep style and helps alleviate any chronic pain (neck, back, etc.) that you might experience. For example, if you suffer from back pain, your mattress choice should accommodate your sleep style (back, side, stomach), as this will
dictate the firmness and makeup of the mattress best suited for you.
However, before you spend any money on a mattress, it’s best to discuss the issue with a chiropractor or your doctor. This way, you’ll ensure you get recommendations on finding the right mattress that addresses the way you sleep and any problems you experience as you’re trying to fall asleep at the end of the day. It sounds like a lot of work, but the payoff will result in quality sleep and potentially less pain.
Look at Your Lifestyle
It’s never too late to make healthy lifestyle changes, and these choices could be key to sleeping better. In general, foods higher in fat and sugar tend to interfere with sleep. You also want to watch how much caffeine you consume and be careful not to have caffeine too late in the day. Many people think that a glass of wine will help, but drinking alcohol before bed can actually
make your sleep quality worse.
Being aware of your diet isn’t just about what you should avoid. According to Sleep Review, it’s also extremely important to make sure you’re getting the nutrition your body needs. You need proper nutrients and minerals in order for your brain to produce the neurotransmitters needed for sleep.
Along with diet, exercise is another easy way to take care of yourself while also improving your sleep. Light to moderate physical fitness is all you need to make a difference, and there are even specific exercises you can do to help. Men’s Journal recommends easy bodyweight exercises, breathing exercises, and yoga to improve sleep.
Lastly, don’t let the dreaded “what if?” games keep you awake at night. If there’s anything that’s weighing on your mind, take steps to address these issues. For example, have you always wanted to go back to school to earn your master’s degree. Online universities make it easy for people from all walks of life to pursue higher education. Getting your master’s will take time and
effort, of course, but the sense of accomplishment you feel can help keep those “what if?” questions from taking up residence in your head.
Prepare for Sleep Proactively
Part of the reason breathing exercises and yoga are beneficial is that they calm your mind so you’re relaxed and ready for sleep. Another great way to prepare your body for sleep is by taking a hot bath before bed. Taking a hot bath helps you unwind, and the drop in your body temperature when you get out makes you sleepy.
Try to be conscientious of your sleep environment as well. Reduce noise, and work on creating a calming sleep space. Keep colors in your bedroom muted, and remove anything that causes you stress, including clutter. Not only does clutter create a sense of chaos, but having lots of stuff lying around near your bed is also a tripping hazard.
Know When to Talk to Your Doctor
Even when you take care of your health and improve sleep habits, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor if you still struggle with sleep. US News explains that you should always take snoring seriously, and tell your doctor if you can only sleep in an upright position. Some sleeping issues your doctor may check for include sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome (RLS).
Medicare covers some tests, devices, and services for sleeping disorders, such as sleep apnea testing, particularly when they are deemed medically necessary by your doctor. If you do have any medical issues that affect your sleep, you may want to purchase an easy-to-use tablet as a way to keep longer-distance family members updated via email or video calling. Keeping family members updated will help give you all some extra peace of mind.
Sleep can be one of the many things that gets harder as we age, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept poor sleep as a fact of life. Eating right, exercising and finding ways to relax are all changes that have a positive impact on your overall health, not just your sleep. These are not just good sleep habits; they are habits for a healthier, happier life.
Photo credit: Pixabay
Leandra Ramm is a remarkably versatile mezzo-soprano and actress whose moving performances have graced prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the United Nations, and Symphony Space. Reach out to discover more!