It is not uncommon for seniors to sometimes struggle to sleep soundly through the night. This article will attempt to address methods of improving the nightly ritual of adequate, effective, sleep.
While there seems to be
no clearly defined, universal definition of sleep, no serious person would
question the reality of our need for it…unless they were sleep deprived, and
thus struggling to think clearly and rationally.
Sleep deprivation can
have serious consequences for our health and mental functioning and even our
longevity. Are we each getting enough
sleep? It is important that each of us
answer that question in the affirmative.
How long does it take you to fall asleep? A typical time for adults is 10 to 20 minutes, while for seniors, it is more than 30 minutes. If it takes us much longer to fall asleep, we may not be getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours needed for optimum health, according to SleepFoundation.org.
The medical term for
difficulty falling to sleep is sleep onset latency, and it affects the
efficiency of our sleep. Falling asleep
on schedule helps us enjoy adequate amounts of the later stages of deep
sleep. Otherwise, our sleep may be less
refreshing as well as too brief.
The specific remedy may depend on what’s keeping us up at night. Our daily activities can have a big impact on what we experience at night. Making adjustments can shorten sleep onset latency.
Here are some suggestions for minimizing awake moments before sleep comes.
1. Synchronize our schedule. Go to bed and wake up at regular times, even on weekends and holidays. We’ll be training our bodies and mind to develop a rhythm for when to become drowsy.
2. Eat light. Avoid eating foods high in calories or heavy on spices late in the day. If we want to snack, enjoy a piece of fruit or a warm glass of milk.
3. Use relaxation exercises. Deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation are two popular methods for hastening sleep. It also helps to manage stress during the day and visualize pleasant images at bedtime.
Work out. Along with many other benefits, an active lifestyle enhances sleep. Aim
for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week.
Forget the clock. Worrying
about falling asleep can keep us awake longer. We should resist the urge to
keep checking the time.
Leave the room. If we’re
unable to relax, we may want to get out of bed. Go to another room and do
Limit alcohol and caffeine. Cut back on cocktails and coffee, especially in the later hours. Alcohol will interfere with the quality of our sleep. Drinking coffee and other caffeinated drinks, after about 2 pm may keep us alert hours later.
8. Keep a journal. Sleep issues can have many different causes. Recording our habits in a journal could enable us to spot
patterns and help us talk with our doctor if we need to explore medical
Our environment can work for us or against us. A few simple changes could make our nights more restful and our days more productive.
Block out noise. Keep the bedroom quiet. Turn on a fan or a pink or brown noise recording to block out loud
neighbors and car alarms.
2. Dim the lights. Darkness prepares our brain for sleep. Hang heavy curtains in our bedroom or wear a sleep mask. On the
other hand, morning light will help us
wake up and feel drowsy later in the day.
Adjust the temperature.
Setting the bedroom thermostat to 60 to 67 degrees overnight is optimum for
most adults. We may also feel sleepier after a warm bath or shower as our body
Turn off the devices.
Set a curfew on watching TV and browsing online. Shutting off electronic
devices at least two hours before bed will minimize exposure to bright
screens and excess stimulation.
Check the bedding. How old is the mattress? Visit a sleep store for the latest in memory
foam mattresses, weighted blankets, and other products that might work for us.
Falling asleep more rapidly can increase the quantity and quality of our sleep. Try natural home remedies for reducing the time spent tossing and turning, and talk with a health care provider if we need more assistance.