It’s not a luxury but a very real need. A good night’s sleep is fundamental to your health, regardless of your age. The average senior adult requires as much sleep as younger adults, according to WebMD. The ideal amount of sleep is estimated to be 7.5-9 hours per night. Individuals who sleep well tend to be healthier, more alert, and less prone to accidents. There’s not much in life as great as a good night’s sleep.
Poor sleep can be caused by a number of factors including medical conditions resulting in discomfort or pain, side-effects to medication, poor sleep habits, increased sensitivity to noise, light or temperature; untreated sleep disorders and anxiety. Older adults often find their sleep disturbed because of increased nighttime trips to the bathroom. Unfortunately, this is also a major cause of falls.
Sleep, which is important for anyone, is of particular significance to seniors who may have weakened immune systems, or issues with focus, concentration, memory and mood, as all of these are likely to worsen with fatigue. Poor sleep results in poor health which in turn results in poorer quality of life. In our effort to achieve optimal overall health, ALC professionals work carefully with our clients to identify and achieve their ideal sleep requirements.
So what can you do in order to get a good night’s sleep? Experts offer the following recommendations:
- Try not to nap too much during the day
- Try to follow a regular bedtime schedule consistently
- Try to follow a regular exercise schedule consistently
- Try to get exposure to natural light in the afternoon
- Avoid caffeine late in the day or during the evening, and avoid alcohol close to bedtime
- Don’t go to bed hungry
- Create a restful environment in your bedroom. Keep it dark, cool and quiet
- Use your bedroom only for sleeping and sex
- Limit your intake of drinks close to bedtime to cut back on nighttime bathroom excursions
- Cover your bedroom clocks so that you’re not constantly checking to see what time it is
- Use ear plugs or something that generates white noise
- Turn off any source of artificial light including your TV and computer an hour before going to bed, as they can suppress production of melatonin (sleep hormone) in your system
- Refer to the NIH Senior Health’s website about seniors and sleep. It’s a great resource.
Most importantly, don’t assume that poor sleep is a normal and acceptable part of aging. Check with your doctor to rule out any sleep disorders and also to determine if your medication is keeping you awake. Now go catch yourself some zzzzzzz’s.