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Getting Adequate Sleep in Your Golden Years: Helpful Tips for Seniors

As crazy as this sounds, you spend about one-third of your life sleeping. Unfortunately, as you age, sleep might not come as easily. According to The Washington Post, those over age 65 report having sleep issues, including falling and staying asleep. These sleep concerns can cause health issues such as depression, functional decline, and an overall decline in quality of life. If you are one of the many seniors struggling to get a good night’s rest, check out these tips to revamp your sleep routine.

Be Mindful of Midnight Snacking

There’s nothing wrong with a snack or warm drink before bed, especially if your grumbling stomach is keeping you awake, but you need to be mindful of what you are eating and drinking. Stick to small meals to avoid feeling bloated, and try to reach for sleep-inducing foods like lean protein and complex carbs. Both contain a high level of tryptophan, an amino acid that the brain converts to melatonin to give you that sleepy, relaxed feeling. Warm drinks are a great way to relax and unwind before bed too, but avoid anything with caffeine so that you aren’t lying awake all night. It is best to stop drinking liquids about an hour or so before bed to avoid constant bathroom trips and the accompanying interrupted sleep.

Get Those Steps In

If you aren’t getting enough sleep at night, exercising is probably the last thing you want to do. However, there is a strong link between regular exercise and sleep. In a study of sedentary seniors in their 60s with sleep disorders, it was found that daily exercise increased their amount of deep, sound sleep by 45 minutes to an hour, and many woke up far less. Those with sleep disorders such as insomnia suffer from an overactive stress system, and exercise tones down the stress response and enables you to fall asleep more quickly.

Before you start exercising, it is important that you take into account your fitness level to choose the appropriate exercise. If exercise hasn’t been a part of your regular routine for some time, talk with your doctor about the best place to start to avoid injury. Start slow, take your time, and try out different activities to keep things fun and exciting.

Give Your Sleeping Quarters a Makeover

The bedroom is where sleep happens, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it is an environment conducive to sleep. The ideal sleep environment should be clutter-free. Don’t let work, hobbies, or bills creep in and cause you to feel overwhelmed and distracted. Bedrooms aren’t home offices or a dumping zone, so take the time to clear away the stressors.

The room should be relatively dark, which can be achieved through the use of blackout curtains and sleep masks. Noise is another area that leaves you tossing and turning, whether due to it being in excess or too quiet. Use a white noise or sound machine that emits relaxing sounds to help you drift off to sleep and drown out any annoying noises such as traffic, barking dogs, or the rattle of the A/C. Speaking of air conditioning, your body temperature drops as you fall asleep, and keeping the room cool with ceiling or floor fans can aid in this process.

Make sure your bed isn’t the sleep culprit either. Some mattresses are firmer than others or made of breathable material to allow airflow. If you can’t remember the last time you bought a new mattress, it’s time to go shopping. Creating a sleep-inducing environment can be done quickly and inexpensively if you channel your inner smartshopper and look for coupons, promo codes, and cashback opportunities. Most of your favorite retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and Target offer these ways to save, meaning you have zero excuses not to give your bedroom the facelift it needs to help you get some restful sleep.

Sleep problems aren’t a normal part of aging. It’s time to take control and capture more of those Z’s. By adjusting your diet, starting a regular exercise routine, and adjusting your bedroom to promote more restful sleep, you are well on your way.