Surprisingly, the sleep needs for seniors are not all that different than they are for adults of any age. However, most seniors feel that they do not get as restful a night’s sleep as they once did. They feel that they wake up early, have trouble getting to sleep or do not get enough deep sleep. Therefore, they feel tired and groggy the next day. While some of these changes are simply a result of natural aging, seniors can still follow a few tips that will help them get their best night of sleep yet.
- Consistent Sleep Schedules
Seniors should go to bed at the same time every night. This will help their Circadian rhythms, an important component of a sleep/wake schedule. Many seniors find that they go to bed earlier than they once did.
- Good Sleep Environment
A senior’s bedroom should only be used for sleeping. For example, the bedroom should not be a place for watching television or snacking. Seniors should install room-darkening curtains to ensure that they will not be awakened with the sunrise. A white noise machine in the bedroom may help some seniors relax and block out other noises, such as the sound of a partner snoring.
- Smart Naps
While naps can be helpful at this age, they should be kept short and should not be taken any time after the middle of the afternoon. Naps should be no longer than 45 minutes.
- Change the Diet
While medications can often be to blame for poor sleep, one’s diet can also be at fault. Seniors may find that they need to limit caffeine, particularly after two in the afternoon. In addition, alcohol in the evening may make them wake up in the middle of the night. Finally, a light protein-filled snack can help them feel tired before bed.
- Add Exercise
Perhaps the best way to improve sleep quality is for seniors to perform aerobic exercise several times per week. Some good options include water aerobics, swimming, cycling, walking or dancing.