Good sleep habits are a cornerstone of health; however, sleep cycles change as we age. If you or a senior loved one has been struggling with sleep, you aren’t alone. The elderly are more likely to experience disruptions in their circadian rhythm or “internal clock” that make falling asleep and staying asleep more difficult. The body produces less melatonin, a hormone that coordinates sleep cycles, as the years go on. In addition, chronic health issues and diseases more likely to affect seniors can interfere with a good night’s sleep. Finally, retirement can lead to disruptions in routine and frequent napping, which can make falling asleep at night more difficult. In light of these changes, we’ve rounded up some of the best tips for better senior sleep.
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule. The average senior needs between seven and eight hours of sleep each night, and it’s easier to get those hours in by sticking to a dependable sleep schedule. Consider setting a designated time for bedtime and waking up each day to help along your body’s natural sleep rhythms. While napping may be a part of a senior’s routine, it’s a good idea to avoid napping for too long or too close to bed, as this could impede deep nighttime sleep.
- Cut down on substances. In addition to the other health risks they pose, certain substances like alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine all interfere with the body’s natural sleep rhythms. Consider limiting your intake in order to better support your sleep. Remember, even things like large meals and foods that disagree with you can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.
- Stay active. Exercise is one of the best ways to support your health no matter what age you are. Seniors who stay active report better quality of sleep, an easier time falling asleep, and longer sleep. Keeping up age-appropriate physical activity is an essential part of better senior sleep. If you’re not sure where to begin, talk to your doctor about some exercises to get you started.
- Reduce distractions. There are a number of common household items that can distract a senior during bedtime and prevent him or her from getting the best sleep possible. Screens of all types, especially televisions, phones, and laptops, can make falling and staying asleep harder. Break the habit of falling asleep with the TV on or while scrolling through social media, and keep electronics in another room while you sleep.
- Develop a bedtime routine. A stable bedtime routine helps you wind down and signals to the body that it’s time to go to sleep. Build in time at the end of the day for activities to help you relax. Try reading, calling a loved one on the phone, taking a bath, or enjoying some quiet time.
- Practice safe sleeping. Reducing safety concerns in the bedroom will help you sleep soundly and securely. Remove any trip hazards, such as loose cords, furniture, and rugs, and never smoke in bed. Keep a telephone by the bed in case you need to place an emergency call at night. This will prevent you from having to leave the bed and navigate through the home if you ever need assistance. Finally, make sure there’s a light in easy reach of your bed, or invest in motion sensor lights.
If you’d like to learn more about better senior sleep and connect with an in-home caregiver who can help you set a sleep routine, contact Senior HomeCare of Tucson, the top home care agency in Tucson and the surrounding areas. Our hand-picked and highly trained caregivers are here to meet a number of care needs, including personal care, housekeeping assistance, respite care, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, and end-of-life care services. If you’re interested in taking the next step towards in-home care, contact us online or give us a call at 520-416-6226.