October 17, 2018

Top Ways to Improve Senior Sleeping Habits

Good sleep is essential to healthy living, no matter what your age. And while how much sleep you need varies from person to person, in general, it’s recommended that seniors over 65 get approximately 8 hours of sleep each night to help restore energy levels and feel refreshed the next day.

However, for many seniors, getting a restful night’s sleep isn’t always so easy. In fact, according to the Canadian Sleep Society, nearly half of all seniors’ experience sleep issues. And an estimated 70% report regularly experiencing at least one symptom of insomnia.

Without regular restful sleep seniors may feel sluggish, tired, inattentive and are at a higher risk for dangerous falls and accidents. And over time, too little sleep can even contribute to cognitive decline, memory loss and increase your risk for developing dementia.

What Causes Insomnia in Seniors

It’s not uncommon to experience changes in your sleeping patterns as you age. Many seniors cite they are more tired earlier, wake up earlier or sleep less deeply. However, insomnia, either trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or both, is not a natural part of aging.

There is no singular cause for insomnia in seniors, but common causes may include, poor sleep habits, such as falling asleep at irregular hours or falling asleep with the tv on; medical conditions such as pain, arthritis, diabetes, heartburn and Alzheimer’s disease; menopause and post menopause in women; medications; lack of activity during the day; stress and anxiety, as well as lack of social engagement. Lack of sunlight, which helps regulate melatonin, a hormone which helps maintain your sleep cycles, as well as conditions like restless leg syndrome (RLS) and sleep apnea, can also contribute to insomnia.

If you believe a medical condition is contributing to your insomnia, be sure to speak with your doctor.

5 Sleep Tips for Seniors

A goodnight’s rest can help seniors stay healthy, active and independent. If you’ve noticed changes in your sleep patterns, here are five tips to help you sleep more soundly:

  1. Establish a bedtime routine. Try to go to sleep at the same time each night. Additionally, incorporate something into your night time routine that helps signal to your body that it’s time to go to bed. This could be something as simple as drinking a decaf tea, taking a warm bath or reading a book. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that helps your body wind down and relax.
  2. Avoid daytime naps. Sleeping too much during the day, or sleeping too late in the day, can make it difficult to fall asleep at night. Instead, limit naps to between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. and only nap for 20 minutes at a time.
  3. Create a calming environment. Artificial light from tablets, computers, televisions and smartphones can affect your circadian rhythm and may even suppress the production of melatonin. Limit your exposure to electronic lights 30 to 60 minutes prior to going to bed.
  4. Exercise and eat right. The more active you are during the day, the better you’ll be able to sleep at night. However, try to avoid exercising 3 hours or less before bed. Additionally, limiting caffeine and foods high in sugar late in the day can also help you sleep better at night.
  5. Reduce stress, especially at night. Stress and anxiety is a major contributor to insomnia—especially if you feel anxious about not being able to sleep. If you find that after 15 minutes in bed you are still wide awake, get out of bed, go to another room and partake in a relaxing activity such as reading a book, until you become tired.

Looking for more ways to get a better night’s sleep? Here are some additional tips for seniors from the Canadian Sleep Society.

Helping Seniors Live Healthy at Symphony Senior Living

Healthy sleep is just one essential element of healthy living. At Symphony Senior Living, we provide seniors the services and amenities they need to live healthy. From nutritious, community dining options, to regular social activities, to wellness and exercise programs, our residents have everything they need to stay active and independent, all in one community. Contact Symphony Senior Living today to learn how we’re helping seniors live life to the fullest.

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