As we age, we are more likely to experience a decrease in deep, or slow-wave, sleep, which is particularly restorative, and supports memory and learning. A decrease in deep sleep increases the likelihood of fragmented sleep and waking up in the middle of the night more often. Additionally, insomnia is a condition that can be more prominent in older adults because of certain medications, anxiety and depression, stress, poor diet, and other health problems common in the older adult population.
Fortunately, there are numerous ways to help improve sleep habits as an older adult. These tips focus on lifestyle changes that focus on improving sleep hygiene and developing habits that encourage quality sleep.
- Exercise. Engaging in physical activity at a regular time each day will help to fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and experience better quality of sleep. When possible, spend time outdoors—the natural light helps to regulate the body’s natural rhythm and reminds your body what time it is.
- Make conscious diet choices. Lean protein, fruits, heart-healthy fats and other nutrient rich foods can help to contribute to a quality night’s sleep. Avoid food and drinks containing caffeine and alcohol or excess sugar, which can keep you up later and make you stay up longer.
- Reserve the bedroom for only sleep and sex. Many distractions can prevent us from getting quality sleep. Turn off television and stow away your electronic devices to minimize distractions. Create a dark and quiet environment to help reduce distractions and focus on sleep. Create an environment that is free from distracting noises and bright lights. By implementing these changes, your brain will associate the bedroom for just sleep and sex.
- Decrease your fluid intake near bedtime. This will decrease the likelihood of having to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, causing less breaks in sleep. Getting up at night to go to the bathroom also increases the likelihood of falls.
- Develop a bedtime routine. Older adults experience changes in their internal clock that cause them to go to bed and rise earlier. If you’re having trouble going to bed, try to adapt a consistent bedtime routine to prepare your mind and body to go to bed and adjust to a sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Be intentional about your activities before bedtime, whether it’s taking a long shower, reading a book, or meditating. Find a bedtime routine that works for you and stick to it.
Happier at Home services can help your loved one to establish and stick to a routine that benefits their sleep habits. Call us today.