As we enter our golden years, we experience all kinds of exciting changes. Unfortunately, some of those changes aren’t so exciting – like negative changes to sleep patterns, for example. A lot of people – around 40 percent of seniors, in fact – find that they have a harder time falling asleep as they get older, waking more often during the night and earlier in the morning. You may also find it difficult to stay in a deep, dreamless sleep. Fortunately, with just a few tricks to help you sleep, you’ll be on your way to feeling more rested.
Tricks to Help You Sleep
Lower the Room Temperature
As you fall asleep, your body’s core temperature decreases. Sometimes helping your body cool down – by lowering the thermostat or sleeping in front of a fan, for example – can be a great way to trick your body into thinking it’s time to sleep. You might also take a warm bath or shower before bed, allowing your body to cool down rapidly afterward.
Stick to a Sleep Schedule
As we get older, our circadian rhythms (our natural instincts telling us when it’s time to sleep and time to wake up) can get thrown off. This is especially common in dementia patients. To prevent this phenomenon, try setting a sleep schedule for yourself. Doing your best to maintain the same general bedtime and wake-up time helps to regulate your body’s clock, improving the quality of your sleep. You should also try to avoid naps during the day, as napping may make it more difficult to get a good night’s rest.
Watch What You Eat
The food you eat before bed has been proven to affect the quality of your sleep. For example, eating high-carb meals before bed may be disruptive, as your body has to work harder to digest large amounts of carbs. While you might feel sleepy after eating, say, a big plate of spaghetti, you likely won’t experience the kind of restful sleep you need. When in doubt, look to low-carb, high-fat meals for your last meal of the day. Of course, it’s okay to end your day with that big plate of spaghetti – just make sure you take your last bite at least four hours before bed to give yourself plenty of time to digest.
Try Deep Breathing Techniques
Performing deep breathing before bedtime can be a great way to wind down and fall asleep faster. Set the stage with a relaxing activity right before bed, such as taking a warm bath or stretching by candlelight, and make sure to avoid bright lights or screens. From there, try the “4-7-8” breathing method, which promotes relaxation:
- Start by placing the tip of your tongue directly behind your upper front teeth.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, letting out your breath with a “whoosh” sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale through your nose for four seconds.
- Hold your breath for seven seconds.
- Open your mouth and exhale completely – don’t forget the “whoosh” sound – for eight seconds.
- Repeat at least three more times.
We hope that these tricks to help you sleep are useful to you. Since the quality of our sleep often decreases as we age, it’s important to do all that we can to get the rest and relaxation we need to enjoy our golden years.
Are you looking for an assisted living community in Tennessee? Check out Hearthside Senior Living in Collierville and Bartlett. Our warm and inviting communities makes it easy for seniors to embrace a healthy lifestyle, with home-cooked and restaurant-style meals, exercise classes, and a nurse devoted to residents’ health and wellness. To learn more about our amenities and services, please contact us online.