Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep
If you find yourself having increasing difficulty sleeping as you get older, you aren’t alone. The prevalence of insomnia is higher among older adults. Seniors may also be more prone to issues like sleep apnea and gastroesophageal reflux disorders that disrupt their nights. Getting your Z’s isn’t just important for feeling well-rested, it’s essential for your well-being. A lack of sleep has been shown to contribute to mental health problems like depression and anxiety, and poor diet can also contribute to poor sleep. Keep yourself healthy in mind and body as you get older by following our guidelines for better sleeping habits.
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Establish a regular sleeping schedule
One of the best steps you can take to regularly get a good night’s sleep is to set a well-defined schedule and stick to it. Get into the habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. This will reinforce your circadian rhythm, the “internal clock” that indicates to your brain and body when it’s time to rest. Consistency benefits your circadian rhythm, and a fixed bedtime will make drifting off at the end of the day easier.
Minimize distractions before bed
When you keep busy right up until bedtime, your brain will still be in peak activity mode—and not ready to calm down. One hour before you go to sleep, start winding down. Put away screens like your smartphone and tablet; these devices aren’t just distracting, the blue light they emit interferes with sleep. Instead of scrolling through social media, read a book or try meditating. Late night snacking can result in indigestion and prevent you from getting some shuteye, but if you must eat something before bed, reach for a healthy snack like fresh fruit or almond butter. Clutter can be another distraction, so during the day, make sure that your room is kept clean. Decluttering can also be a great mood booster since it helps to create a more positive energy flow in the home.
Get a new mattress for a Better Night’s Sleep
Back pain is a common complaint among older adults due to degeneration of the lumbar spine. Having the wrong mattress can exacerbate the problem, leaving you tossing and turning in bed. If your mattress is more than ten years old, it’s time to get a new one. You can skip the traditional options and opt for a bed-in-a-box, such as Nectar or Layla, instead. These mattresses are typically less expensive than traditional beds.
Create a completely dark bedroom
Darkness signals to your brain that it’s time to power down and enter sleep mode. When light seeps into your room at night, this restful state is disrupted. This is especially true for older adults who tend to be more sensitive to such interruptions. The bad news is that interrupted sleep is almost as bad as getting no sleep at all. Minimize the risk by installing black-out shutters or curtains in your bedroom. This will keep light from cars, street lamps, and other distractions from coming in.
Invest in a sound machine
Unexpected noises are another factor that can disrupt sleep. From a barking dog to a car backfiring, there are some loud sounds from the outside world that you may not be able to block out with shutters and blinds. Help drown them out with a sound machine. This provides a constant “hum” of background noise; you can choose from different soothing options such as ocean waves or rainfall. New York Magazine offers a roundup of noise machines designed to meet different needs, from the LectroFan Evo (best for blocking noise) to the AVANTEK (the best choice for those who like nature sounds).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of American adults don’t get the amount of sleep they need. Follow these guidelines to change your sleep habits, and you can expect more restful nights in the future. As you get older, you will appreciate a sound night’s sleep even more. Having these health and wellness tools and techniques in place will ensure that you get it.