Getting a good night’s sleep may be more difficult as we age. Numerous factors including changes in your body’s circadian rhythm, insomnia, side effects from certain medications, and medical conditions like arthritis and restless leg syndrome, can impact the quality and quantity of your sleep. In addition to incorporating foods that can help promote sleep, creating a solid sleep routine may be beneficial in improving sleep. This blog from The Bristal explores how.
What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults 65 years and older aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. While it isn’t unusual to have trouble sleeping on occasion, consistent problems falling and staying asleep are cause for concern.
Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and depression. There is also research showing sleep deprivation can significantly impact cognitive functioning, as well as raise the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. If you continue to have problems sleeping, it is important to talk with your primary care provider who can check for underlying medical conditions like sleep apnea.
What Should a Sleep Routine Include?
A sleep routine is nothing more than a set of actions or behaviors you perform before bedtime. Done consistently, a sleep routine may help improve the quality of your sleep. Following are some common habits to include in your sleep routine:
- Have a set sleep schedule. Waking up and going to bed at the same time each day will help teach your body to become tired before bedtime. The key is to be consistent and to be patient – it may take time for your body to adjust.
- Limit screen usage before bed. The blue light from smartphones, tablets, computers, and television screens can interfere with your circadian rhythm. Power down electronic devices at least one hour before bedtime to limit your blue light exposure.
- Be careful about what you eat and drink. Acid reflux and indigestion are common sleep disruptors. Heavy meals or too much alcohol close to bedtime can cause both. If you need a snack before you sleep, choose something that is light and easily digestible.
- Make sure your sleep environment is conducive to sleep. In addition to lowering your thermostat at night, keeping your bedroom free from clutter may also promote better sleep. Blackout curtains and using a white noise machine or app can help eliminate distractions. Finally, make sure your mattress and bedding are comfortable.
- Relax your mind. A good sleep routine should include strategies that help your mind unwind. Every person is different, so a trial-and-error approach may be needed. Reading, journaling, meditating, and coloring are all great ways to relax your mind before bed. Listening to music and working on puzzles are also great options.
- Take a warm bath or shower. The drop in your body temperature following a warm bath or shower may help you feel sleepy and relaxed.
Additional Lifestyle Resources
For additional lifestyle tips and resources, visit The Bristal’s blog.