Healthy Aging: How to Get More Restful Sleep

If you feel exhausted when you wake up in the morning, odds are that you’re not getting the good night’s sleep you need. As you get older, sleep can become more challenging, especially if you have a condition such as sleep apnea or Alzheimer’s disease. Restless sleep can also be a side effect of some common medications. Regardless of the causes, by incorporating some better practices and routines, you can build healthier habits that can assist in giving you that sound sleep you need. Here are some quick tips that will help you get that restful sleep you’ve been (day) dreaming about.

STICK TO A SLEEP SCHEDULE

Taking random naps throughout the day can affect your sleep cycle. Try to stick as closely as possible to a regular sleep pattern that involves going to bed at the same time each night. That way your body forms a daily habit and knows when it’s time to shut down for a good night’s rest.

EXERCISE DAILY

Exercise has been proven to improve your sleep cycle. If you incorporate exercise into your daily routine, you’ll be able to improve your quality of sleep. Just remember to avoid exercising shortly before bed, as your body can become more energized, making it more difficult to settle into bed. Even a simple stretching routine or evening walk with the dog is a great start.

CONSIDER YOUR MEDICATIONS

Older adults may require more medication and, as a result, some combinations can impair the sleeping process. Consult with your doctor and/or pharmacist to determine whether your medication is limiting how restful of a night’s sleep you are getting.

BOOST MELATONIN LEVELS

The rays of the sun help to regulate melatonin, which influences your sleep and wake cycles. It is recommended that seniors receive at least two hours of sunlight exposure a day to help them sleep better. Try opening shades during naps or using a light therapy system to compensate on dreary days. Other alternatives to sunlight for melatonin gains include low-wattage bulbs throughout your home, and turn off the television and computer at least an hour before going to bed.

SATISFY HUNGER BEFORE BED

By eating just enough to satisfy your body’s hunger before going to bed for the night, you’ll be able to sleep more comfortably and soundly – just be sure to eat light and avoid big late-night meals. Low-sugar cereal, yogurt, and warm milk are ideal snack choices before bed.

FORM POSITIVE SLEEP HABITS

Many people spend the time before bed watching TV or using their smart phone or tablet. These activities stimulate the brain, kick it into work mode, and make it difficult to relax and go to sleep. Instead, try spending your last hour before bed relaxing without electronics.

BE SOCIALLY ACTIVE

Studies indicate that a lack of social engagement can negatively impact our sleep cycles, regardless of age. Social activities such as family visits or even a coffee with a friend are ideal ways to keep your activity level up. In turn, this helps prepare your body for a comfortable night’s sleep through sufficient mental and physical stimulation. You can also use these moments to discuss problems that are troubling you, as reducing stress is another great way to sleep more soundly.

MAKE YOUR ROOM COOL

Studies have shown that cooler temperatures help the body fall asleep and stay asleep more easily. So try to reduce the temperature in your bedroom by using a fan. Keep a warm enough blanket nearby so that you don’t end up waking up from feeling too cold.

AVOID CAFFEINE AND ALCOHOL

Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime. These substances also stimulate your body and mind and can make you feel restless, which will negatively impact your sleep cycle. For a substitution, try switching to chamomile tea if you need a hot drink in the evening.

MEDITATION

Deep breathing exercises and relaxation techniques can help calm your body and mind from the stress of the day. Try listening to a meditation recording before bed to help you focus on relaxing and calming your body and mind.

Sleep is important for maintaining optimal health. Don’t let sleepless nights affect your life. Work on building positive sleep habits such as these to help you get that sound sleep your body and mind need.

If you have any further questions about keeping a loved one healthy a senior or otherwise, Qualicare Family Homecare is here to help. Give us a call at 613.366.2899; we’d love to listen and help!

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