Please raise your hand if you’ve ever wished you could sleep better.
We’ve all felt it: that groggy, disoriented feeling you get when you’re woken up from a terrible night’s sleep by your alarm clock. And often, this effect gets worse and worse as we age! Many older adults are chronically deprived of sleep or have sleep apnea, and there is a lot of evidence that lack of sleep is very detrimental to the body. You can’t age well if you don’t sleep well!
Luckily, there are many things you can do to improve the quality of sleep you get every night. We are happy to partner with Eric Collett of A Mind for All Seasons to bring in some expert advice on sleep and aging. With the right tricks and some extra knowledge, you will be able to sleep much more soundly each night, all while benefiting from the myriad of health benefits that proper sleep provides.
Follow along below as we walk through things you can start implementing tonight to start getting a solid 7 or 8 hours. Ready? Let’s dive in.
5 Steps to Sleep Better
1) Put away all electronic devices an hour before you want to be in bed.
Many of us tend to watch TV or use our phones at the end of the day to unwind. While there’s nothing wrong with doing so when we get home, looking at our screens right before we go to bed can really mess with our body’s natural clock. In the evening hours our bodies produce more melatonin, a hormone that helps us fall asleep. The blue wavelengths of light produced by our phones, televisions, and the sun, suppress melatonin, making it harder to fall asleep quickly. In addition, we should be exposing ourselves to the right wavelengths of light as we wake up by doing such things as opening the blinds in the morning to let the sunlight in. Dimming the lights in your home an hour before bed is also another helpful trick to further trigger your body’s melatonin levels. Plus, it can help save on your electric bill!
2) Make sure that you have at least 3 hours between eating and bedtime
Eating raises our insulin, and eating too close to bedtime can also make falling asleep more difficult. This includes snacks as well! Eat dinner no less than 3 hours before bed and refrain from snacking to keep insulin levels down. It is also recommended to drink less fluids during this time, which will hopefully save you a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
3) Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day
We are creatures of habit, and our bodies are no different. As you train your body to retire and arise at the same times each day it will become much more natural and easy to do. Often times this can be hard to do but doing things like setting alarms or scheduling a bedtime can greatly help make this goal a reality.
4) Refrain from activities that keep your mind active before bed
The goal here is to keep your mind from having many interesting things to process that may be a distraction as you attempt to wind down. Reading a good fiction book is one less taxing and fun way to wind down, but you could also try stretching, meditating, deep breathing, or listening to slower music to relax your mind into submission.
5) Don’t exercise right before bed
This tip may be an obvious one, but it is worth mentioning. Exercise elevates our Cortisol and Adrenaline, two hormones that will make it more difficult to fall asleep. Give your body enough time to relax before bed and you will be rewarded greatly. As a side note, research has shown that regular exercise can also have a positive influence on the quality of our sleep!
Try it for yourself
We all want to be more well rested, but sometimes it can be tough to know what can be done to improve. Applying some or all of these 5 steps is an excellent start if you or a loved one are suffering from poor sleep. If you are feeling determined, try and apply all 5 right away! If you like to take things a little slower, try implementing one or two of these steps until it becomes a habit and then moving onto the rest. The goal is to make long-term changes that will positively impact your sleep habits for good.
Proper sleep is one of the many important factors of our memory care at Avista Senior Living and serves an especially important role in our innovative new Enhance memory care protocol. Keep an eye out for more interesting content on healthy aging and dementia care!