As they grow older, it is not uncommon for people to start experiencing symptoms of insomnia or poor sleep. Interestingly, the inability to get a full night’s rest is one of the reasons why we always think of seniors as being early risers. It’s not that they don’t need as much sleep — they need the same seven to nine hours a night that younger adults do — but, unfortunately, they cannot get it for a variety of reasons.
If you or a loved one has been experiencing a serious decline in the quality or quantity of their sleep, don’t despair. Some simple lifestyle or environment changes can make a huge difference in boosting sleep and achieving the restful slumber you need.
Finding the Right Mattress
If you are tossing and turning a lot at night or waking up early with body pains, your mattress could be to blame. If it is older than eight to 10 years old, it is more than likely time for a replacement anyway, but even newer mattresses can cause discomfort if they are not the right type for you. When it’s time to select one, find a mattress that suits your sleep style and your comfort level. For example, if you suffer from chronic back pain, it’s important to select a mattress that will provide you with the kind of support that your neck and spine need to remain comfortable and aligned throughout the night.
It’s not all about the mattress, however. Pillows are also important when it comes to getting plenty of good sleep, regardless of whether you like them soft or hard, so invest in high-quality ones that will make you feel like you are resting on a cloud. There are even cooling options so you don’t have to keep flipping your pillow around during the night.
Winding Down for better sleep
Amongst the possible causes of insomnia in the elderly, anxiety, poor sleeping habits, and irregular bedtimes are amongst the most common. A regular soothing bedtime routine can be an incredibly useful tool to counteract these factors. Developing (and stick to) a healthy routine relaxes the mind and signals to the body that it should start winding down for the day, allowing you to drift off to sleep easily and peacefully.
Your routine can include anything you like, depending on what relaxes you and makes you feel sleepy. A few great healthy habits to incorporate include:
● Playing relaxing music, soothing sounds, or white noise
● Drinking a herbal infusion such as chamomile
● Taking a warm bath or shower
● Using essential oils in a diffuser, in the bath, or on your pillow
● Reading a book instead of looking at a tablet or smartphone screen, as the latter emits blue light that tells your brain that it’s still daytime
Diet and Exercise
Your health habits throughout the day can greatly affect your ability to fall asleep at night. For example, regular exercise has been shown to improve sleep in the long run, so make sure you are doing your recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week. If you’re having trouble deciding where you should start, check out this handy list of the best exercises for seniors by Silver Sneakers for some great ideas.
Meanwhile, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet can help you achieve better sleep in a variety of ways. For one, avoiding stimulants, sugars, and refined carbs at night can regulate your energy levels so you don’t get a major spike right before you turn in for the evening. Also, eating a balanced diet can also prevent gastrointestinal issues, which can cause bad sleep and be worsened by it in a chicken-and-egg scenario.
Give yourself a few weeks to implement these new habits and routines and see how your sleep is affected. Chances are you will find yourself better rested, but if that’s not the case, then your next step should be to go see your doctor to discuss the matter. Sometimes, problems with sleep are related to sleep disorders or other underlying illnesses, so a medical solution could be the best way forward. A health professional will be able to advise on the best methods. Your doctor may also have some advice and suggestions that you haven’t considered.
Regardless of your problem, there is a solution for it and a way for you to achieve a restful and restorative night’s sleep. Before making an appointment with your doctor to talk about the situation, take a look at your lifestyle, check out your mattress, and develop a restful bedtime routine. You don’t have to suffer from a lack of proper sleep.