When we get older, especially after 50 or 60, we can suffer from sleep disorders like insomnia or disturbed sleep. We wake up early and during the night. Unless we act, these issues can lead to health problems like blood pressure, poor memory, dementia, and heart disease.
Sleep health shouldn’t be overlooked. We can start by changing our behavior to get good quality sleep. Sleeping well not only restores our bodies. It also boosts our immune system for good health.
Why Is It Harder to Sleep When We’re Older?
Insomnia in older adults is often caused by these factors:
- Less daytime activity: Doing less during the day gives us too little exposure to sunlight. Our brains secrete less melatonin, the hormone that reduces body temperature and relaxes our brains. At night, our brains secrete melatonin into our blood, making us feel sleepy and fall asleep more easily.
- Stress: Stress can cause nighttime anxiety, making us wake up often and not sleep deeply.
- Side effects from medicines or supplements: Some medicines and vitamin supplements can cause insomnia, such as nasal decongestants, antiseptics, and some antidepressants.
Physical deterioration: Our bodies age. We can suffer from disease and pain, such as from rheumatoid arthritis, gout, or joint pains, reducing sleep quality.
When older adults sleep badly for a long time, they can suffer other health problems such as strokes, dementia, sleep apnea, heart disease, sleepwalking.
Symptoms of Insomnia in Older Adults
Insomnia in older adults may be caused just by aging or by the early stages of dementia, which makes it harder to fall asleep. How can you tell if you might have dementia?
We should watch for these symptoms during the day and night.
Nighttime dementia signs
- Sleeping lightly and waking up often
- Continuous snoring
- Talking in our sleep
Daytime dementia signs
- Confusion and restlessness
- Longer naps
- Hot flushes
- Poor concentration, loss of memory and perception
- Drowsiness in the evening
- Lack of motivation for normal activities
- Aggression, irritability, especially with carers or people close to you
You should check yourself for these symptoms and adjust your lifestyle to reduce the risk of dementia.
10 Ways Older Adults Can Avoid Insomnia
There are many ways to tackle insomnia as an older adult. You can start by changing your routine before bedtime.
1 Boost your melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone produced by your brain that helps you sleep. To ensure you get enough at the right time, turn your lights down or off and keep away from screens for an hour before bedtime.
2 Avoid blue light
Blue light from phones and other screens damages your retinas and reduces the production of melatonin that you need to sleep.
3 Sleep at a regular time
For the best sleep you need to go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on Saturdays and Sundays, so your body gets into a routine.
4 Relax before bedtime
You feel sleepier and sleep better if you relax before bedtime. Do gentle activities like meditating, breathing exercises, or stretching.
5 Drop the sleeping pills
Sleeping pills can help us sleep but they have many side effects. Don’t rely on them too much and you’ll escape the negative effects.
6 Cut out caffeine
Caffeine might refresh you in the morning. But tea, coffee, cocoa, or chocolate in the afternoon can made it harder to drop off.
7 Avoid alcohol
Alcohol late in the day may make you feel sleepy. But it actually has a direct negative effect on your sleep quality.
8 Shun starch and sugar
Foods or drinks high in starch and sugar, like soft drinks, toast, or chips, can make you wake up at night, dragging you out of deep sleep and harming your health.
9 Don’t overeat in the evening
A big dinner can be hard to digest, causing acid reflux that keeps you awake. Eat an appropriate amount 3 hours before going to bed and you’ll avoid these problems.
10 Drink less
Drinking lots of water before going to bed will make you get up to go to the bathroom. Avoid drinking for at least 1.5 hours before bedtime.
Improve Your Bedroom with Universal Design
Home design, especially in the bedroom, has a great effect on sleep quality. Small distractions can have long-term impacts for older adults.
Universal Design is a growing trend to enhance lifestyles and ensure quality of life for all ages.
The Aspen Tree at The Forestias has focused on Universal Design to create happy homes in a warm community with lifetime care. Universal Design and Aging-in-Place principles give residents comfort, convenience, and safety.
You can apply Universal Design to your bedroom to sleep better:
- Your bedroom should be completely dark
- Organize your room to keep out noise from outside
- Your windows should let in natural light
- Orange light tones won’t disturb your nervous system.
- Sleep near a bathroom for safety and convenience when you get up at night
You can also apply technologies like motion sensors and automatic lights. Install non-slip, impact-absorbing flooring and put in handrails in your bathroom.
Want to know more about Universal Design? Come and view homes fully designed to its principles at The Aspen Tree, where lifetime care ensures your well-being and peace of mind for life.
How The Aspen Tree Helps You Sleep Well
The Aspen Tree at The Forestias boosts your physical and mental well-being to help you sleep.
The community is ready to take care of you, so you can live life to the full free from stress and worries. The expert team is on hand to support you 24 hours a day.
Daytime activities keep you fit and in form, so you can shed stress and enjoy a good night’s sleep:
- Swimming or exercise in the water boosts fitness and helps your muscles, bones, and joints.
- Singing or dancing helps you stay active and boosts your memory. Meeting with friends can reduce stress. You’ll have fun and feel more relaxed.
- Playing golf doesn't require too much movement. You can focus on your game and get a bit of exercise.
- Fitness and yoga help you stay fit, combining exercise with relaxation.
- Walking is an easy activity that stretches and relaxes your muscles.
There are also daytime leisure activities such as the art room, spa and beauty salon, movie room, karaoke room, meditation room, healing garden.
The Aspen Tree’s community and amenities let you live a truly carefree lifestyle. Come and discover a community that safeguards your well-being day and night.
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