Rest easy: How seniors can improve the quality of their sleep


senior sleep

It’s yet another cruel joke played by our aging bodies. You’ve finally retired, and you’re due some much-needed rest – and you find yourself unable to sleep!

A 2003 poll by the National Sleep Foundation revealed that 44 percent of Americans over the age of 55 said they had one or more symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights a week.

Why is insomnia – whether acute (lasting a few days to a few weeks) or chronic (lasting more than one month) – more prevalent among the elderly?

Neurological degeneration associated with age can disrupt circadian rhythms, causing fragmented sleeping patterns and an urge to nap during the day.

And, many physical and psychological illnesses, as well as the medications used to treat them, can disturb sleep, and pain from arthritis, osteoporosis and other age-related ailments can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep, too.

But don’t let all that keep you awake at night! Here are some easy measures that seniors can take to improve their nights, courtesy of the National Institute on Aging:

  1. Set a schedule. Stick to the same going-to-bed and getting-up schedule seven days a week. This will help your body learn when it’s time to sleep. And avoid the temptation to nap – that’ll only make it harder to drift off at night.
  2. Make a routine of bedtime. What helps you relax? A warm bath? Soothing music? A good book? Quiet time spent with a loved one or pet? Do that before tucking yourself in for the night.
  3. Time your exercise. Regular exercise is a must for all of us, but avoid exercising within three hours of your bedtime.
  4. Eat and drink wisely. Avoid caffeine late in the day and large meals late at night. And although a nightcap can feel relaxing, alcohol actually makes it harder to stay asleep.
  5. Turn your bedroom into a sanctuary for snoozing. Don’t get into the habit of watching TV in bed or falling asleep with the TV on. All sleep experts advise using your bedroom only for sleep, and that means keeping it quiet and cooler rather than warmer, and making your bed with the most comfortable sheets and pillows you can afford.

At Lourdes-Noreen McKeen, residents are able to stay physically active, if they wish. Many residents choose to work out in our state-of-the-art fitness center, which is open 24 hours a day. Daily stretch-and-flex strength training classes are also offered, along with weekly chair yoga classes and aquacize classes. Weekly music socials also provide residents with the chance to dance their way into shape!

Senior Living

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