As you age, it isn't uncommon to have more difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep. There are numerous things that can get in your way of sleeping long enough or receiving quality sleep, including insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and lifestyle habits. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends that older adults (aged 65 and older) should receive somewhere between seven to eight hours of sleep each night. The NSF does state that some adults may need as many as nine hours of sleep, while some be able to function fine with five to six hours. If you're not getting that, or don't feel like you're getting enough sleep, here are a few tips to improve your current sleeping habits:
Quit the Daytime Naps
Naps during the daytime can be particularly relaxing, but they can also be damaging to your regular nighttime sleeping patterns. When you take a nap during the day, you're obviously less tired when you lie down at night. Limit your daytime naps, especially later in the afternoon. If you must take a nap during the day, make sure it is a short one. You can do this by setting an alarm for roughly 20-30 minutes or waiting until your caregiver has arrived so that they can wake you up on time. You should also make sure that it is earlier in the afternoon.
Establish a Routine
Much like you did when you were teaching your child to go to bed at a certain time, you need to do the same routine each night before slipping into bed. This could be relaxing and reading a book, taking a warm bubble bath or simply enjoying a nice cup of tea (decaffeinated, of course!). Basically, you are telling your body that it is time to wind down, relax and get ready to go to sleep.
Limit the Presence of Electronics in Bed
The NSF reported on a study that proves that physical activity during the day can help you not only feel more energized and alert throughout the daylight hours, but it can also improve your quality of sleep at night. According to this study, the key is to engage in 150 minutes of physical exercise each week. The participants said that they were less sleepy throughout the day, which means exercise may be able to help keep you from needing that daytime nap.
Get Help from Your Caregiver
Speak to your home caregiver about helping you get on track so that you can sleep better at night. More often than not, they'll be more than happy to assist you in any way that they can. After all, they are there to help keep you safe and healthy, which is exactly what more sleep at night will do.
Just remember that your sleeping issues could be caused be a health or medical condition. Therefore, it is important that you speak to your caregiver about your problems and schedule an appointment with your family doctor to find out if there is an underlying condition at fault.