Today, I am happy to bring you a guest article from McKenzie Dillon. McKenzie is a blogger and sleep enthusiast for The Slumber Yard, a mattress reviews site that focuses on bedding products. In her free time, she likes attending music festivals, reading fiction novels and practicing yoga.
According to the University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging, 46% of adults between ages 65-80 said they regularly have trouble falling asleep at night, primarily due to frequent bathroom visits, stressful thoughts, and or physical pain. No matter your age, it’s important to get a full night’s sleep if you want to maintain your health. It’s especially important, however, for seniors considering individuals in their older age are more at risk for illness and injury than healthy, young adults.
Professionals recommend seniors receive 7-8 hours in order to stay on top of physical and mental health. Sleep deprivation can lead you down a rabbit hole of health problems including cardiovascular disease, anxiety, depression, diabetes, and even dementia. If you can relate to nearly half of the older adults in the University of Michigan survey who struggle to get their proper rest, try implementing a bedtime routine into your nightly schedule. Practicing relaxing activities before you hit-the-hay can help relieve tension in your body to prepare you for eight hours of sleep, and can help ease your mind so you aren’t so consumed with your day-to-day stresses to the point where it disrupts your sleep.
Have a Consistent Bedtime
Our sleep-wake cycle is regulated by our body’s internal alarm clock, otherwise known as our circadian rhythm. As we become riper in age, our circadian rhythm is thrown off track and you may find yourself falling asleep earlier, resulting in you waking up much earlier too. Consistently going to bed at the same time each night gets your internal alarm clock back in rhythm and your body will begin to recognize when it’s time to go to sleep. Let’s say, for example, you have a regular tee time at 8 a.m., make sure you’re in bed by at least 11 p.m. to allow for 7-8 hours of rest.
Ensure Your Bedroom Is an Optimal Sleeping Space
A bedroom should be your sleep haven reserved for only one thing – sleep. Furnish it with items that make your room feel cozy such as flowers, warm rugs, and most importantly, a comfortable mattress. You should also keep it dark, and relatively cool in order to prevent light and temperature related sleep disturbances. If you’re particularly susceptible to falls, also make sure to eliminate any hazards in your room such as an overturned rug or electronic chords before you go to bed so you don’t risk falling if you wake up in the middle of the night to use the restroom.
Block or Reduce Noise Pollution
Relaxing noises are acceptable to listen to when you’re trying to fall asleep, but sounds like traffic or excessive snoring might be enough to keep you awake at night. Make sure all of your windows are shut to keep out external noise pollution, and use a white noise machine or ear plugs to reduce the wood saw noise coming from your snoring significant other.
Replace Your iPad With a Book
Reading a book just six minutes a day has proven to reduce anxiety by 68%, and is the perfect nighttime activity to ensure your mind is relaxed enough to fall asleep. With that being said, avoid reading on electronic devices like a Kindle or laptop. In fact, you should stay away from all electronics an hour or an hour and a half before bedtime to prevent the screen’s blue light from messing with your circadian rhythm. It has the ability to limit the production of melatonin in your body, the hormone in charge of alerting you when it’s time to wake up or go to bed. Unplug all devices in your bedroom that have a screen before you start your nighttime routine, and give your body a chance to adjust after daytime electronic use.
Limit Late-Afternoon Cups of Coffee
Drinking a cup of coffee or two in the morning is the perfect beginning to your day, but it certainly makes for a bad ending if you drink it in the evening. Ingesting cups of coffee later than about 2 or 3 p.m. can interfere with your ability to fall asleep since the half-life of caffeine is 5-6 hours. This means if you drink 50 mg of caffeine, there will be 25 mg left in your system after 5 hours. If you want to boost the quality of sleep, make sure you limit your caffeine intake to the morning and early afternoon.
Avoid Too Much Water Before Bed
If you attribute your lack of sleep to the several bathroom trips you take throughout the night, avoid drinking water close to bedtime. Hopefully this will reduce the amount of time you spend at the porcelain throne during the night, and increase the time you spend asleep in bed.
Practice Gentle Yoga Stretches
Talk to your doctor about possible yoga stretches you can practice that are gentle enough to relax you before bed, but effective enough to ease tension in your pressure points and relieve sore muscles. Not only do yoga stretches work your body, but they also teach you mindfulness which makes it easier to cope with stressful thoughts that creep up on you around bedtime.
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