For many seniors and the caregivers of seniors, when the sun goes down, it isn’t always a good night. Sleepless nights often lead to sleepy days and can take their toll on a person’s health if the problem goes on for too long. Setting the stage for a restful night’s sleep can help seniors and their caregivers get the sleep they need now to avoid health problems later. The following are some tips to a getting a good night’s sleep:
Keep to a schedule: Your brain’s “circadian clock” is what helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle, and it can easily be thrown off when you either sleep in or stay up too late. To keep your “clock” running on the right schedule, maintain a regular bed and wake time, even on the weekends. This is especially true for seniors, many of whom find that sleepiness during the day, with associated “naps,” leads to awakening many times throughout the night. Making a point of going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time each morning will help alleviate night-time wakefullness.
When it’s time to sleep, relax: Creating a relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bathtub, reading a book, or listening to soothing music can help your body and brain wind down and prepare for sleep. During your routine, avoid bright lights and loud noises, and try not to participate in stressful activities like bill paying or problem solving just before bed.
Create an environment that invites sleep: A dark, comfortable, quiet room free of noise and distractions will help you relax, de-stress, and fall asleep faster.
Bedrooms are sleep-only zones: These days, many people feel compelled to get a little more work done or catch up on favorite TV shows from the comfort of bed. However, this continued stimulation can induce stress and anxiety, inhibiting you from getting a good night’s rest. Leave computers and TVs in the office and/or living room and use the bedroom for sleep only. Most sleep experts suggest not reading in bed either.
Avoid caffeine at bedtime: Because caffeine is a mild stimulant, it produces an alerting effect. Avoid caffeinated beverages at least 8-12 hours before going to bed.
Exercise a few hours before bedtime: Exercise makes falling asleep easier and can help you sleep sounder. Finishing an exercise program at least three hours before bedtime helps the body cool down and helps you fall asleep easier.
Contact AAging Better for more information on how to help seniors or caregivers get a healthy night’s sleep. Contact us online or call us at (208) 777-0308 in the Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls or Hayden areas; (208) 263-7889 in the Sandpoint, Bonners Ferry or Priest River areas; or (208) 784-1505 in the Kellogg, Wallace or Pinehurst areas.