Did you know? An ongoing lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep increases your risk of health problems such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and obesity.
Are you finding yourself…to be irritable? Having memory problems or being forgetful? Feeling depressed? Having more falls or accidents? Then you may not be getting a good night’s sleep.
Despite popular (false) belief, older adults need about the same amount of sleep as all adults, 7 to 9 hours each night. Unfortunately, many older adults often get less sleep than they need. One reason is that they often have more trouble falling asleep. A study of adults over 65 found that 13 percent of men and 36 percent of women take more than 30 minutes to fall asleep.
Here are some ideas and tips for helping get a good night sleep:
- Follow a regular sleep schedule. (Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day)
- Avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening. (Try limiting your day naps to 15-45 minutes)
- Develop a routine for bedtime. (Try to develop soothing bedtime rituals such as taking a bath, playing music or practicing relaxation techniques)
- Avoid electronics, as their lights may make it difficult for you to fall asleep.
- Keep your home at a comfortable temperature. (That is not too hot or too cold)
- Make sure your bedroom is quiet and dark and use low lighting in the evenings.
- Avoid eating large meals close to bedtime. (May lead to indigestion)
- Stay away from caffeine (coffee, tea, soda, chocolate) late in the day.
- Participate in regular exercise [150 minutes total a week]. (A study at Northwestern University found that aerobic exercise resulted in the most dramatic improvement in quality of sleep, including sleep duration, for middle-aged and older adults with a diagnosis of insomnia.)
Sleep problems not related to age**
At any age, it’s common to experience occasional sleep problems. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms on a regular basis, you may be dealing with a sleep disorder:
- Have trouble falling asleep even though you feel tired.
- Have trouble getting back to sleep when awakened.
- Don’t feel refreshed after a night’s sleep.
- Feel irritable or sleepy during the day.
- Have difficulty staying awake when sitting still, watching television, or driving.
- Have difficulty concentrating during the day.
- Rely on sleeping pills or alcohol to fall asleep.
- Have trouble controlling your emotions.
Evaluate your habits and implement some of the tips above into your routine to see if you can improve the quality of sleep. If you still experience problems with sleeping, speak with your doctor about your difficulties and share with them what lifestyle changes you have attempted to make improvements. Quality sleep is essential for optimal health and should be an open part of dialogue with your doctor!