Not getting enough sleep can have a serious impact on the physical and mental well-being of seniors. Persistent sleep problems can increase the risk of conditions like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes or worsen chronic pain. While the general recommendation is to strive for 7-8 hours of productive sleep each night, it’s not always easy to achieve this goal. Keeping certain tips in mind before getting to bed may help improve sleep and minimize related health risks.

Stick to a Regular Schedule

The body has a natural alarm clock (circadian rhythm) that allows for a proper night’s rest that includes all of the stages of sleep, including the deeper stages when recuperative sleep occurs. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule means getting up and going to bed at roughly the same time each day. For seniors who have difficulty staying asleep, getting a mattress that’s firm enough to provide the right kind of support, sticking to a healthy diet, and staying active during the day can help.

Minimize Tossing and Turning

Excessively tossing and turning can make it difficult for seniors to get a good night’s sleep, which can lead to morning joint and muscle stiffness. Things like staring at the clock or stressing out about not being able to get in a comfortable position can also increase production of the stress hormone cortisol. Anxiety can sometimes be eased by light exercise before bed or by reading a favorite book before falling off to sleep.

Create a Comfortable Sleeping Environment

Seniors who are light sleepers can be especially affected by the way their bedroom is set up. For instance, curtains that let in too much moonlight may be distracting. Turning on the television to go to sleep should also be avoided. Further increase comfort by keeping the temperature at a level where it’s not excessively hot or cold (between 60-70 degrees is recommended).

Avoid Tech Distractions

Sometimes just having a device on a dresser or nightstand can be a distraction. Laptops should be closed and things like tablets and smartphones can be put on “sleep mode” to minimize the distracting glow. Another option is to simply turn electronic devices over or place them in a drawer or closet. The blue light from such devices reduces the production of melatonin, a hormone that controls the body’s sleep and wake patterns.

The Marshes of Skidaway Island is a Savannah life plan community in Savannah, GA, committed to improving all aspects of senior living. Contact us today for more information or schedule an appointment to visit our community.