November 15, 2014

Sleep Tips for Seniors

No matter your age, sleeping well is essential to overall health and emotional well-being.  For many older adults, sleep is elusive and can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, memory problems, or even depression.  Why does this happen and what can seniors do to solve sleep problems.

What causes sleep problems in seniors?

  • Hormone Changes – As we age, our bodies produce lower levels of growth hormone, so many older adults experience a decrease in slow wave or deep sleep. When this happens the body produce less melatonin, meaning more fragmented sleep (more rapid sleep cycles) and frequent wakings during the night.
  • Medications. Older adults tend to take more medications than younger people and the combinations of drugs, as well as their side-effects, can impair sleep.
  • Lack of exercise. A sedentary lifestyle may cause a lack of sleepiness at night. Regular aerobic exercise during the day, at least three hours before bedtime, can promote good sleep.
  • Pain or medical illness. Pain can keep you from sleeping well. In addition, many health conditions such as a frequent need to urinate, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, osteoporosis, nighttime heartburn, menopause, and Alzheimer’s can interfere with sleep.

Ways to Encourage Better Sleep.

  • If possible exercise regularly. Exercise releases endorphins that can boost your mood and reduce stress, depression, and anxiety.  This may include walking, gardening or just doing light exercises.  No need to join a gym just add some small changes to your daily routine..
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine. All are stimulants and interfere with the quality of your sleep.
  • Naturally increase melatonin levels.  Artificial lights at night can suppress your body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that makes you sleepy. Use low-wattage bulbs where safe to do so, and turn off the TV and computer at least one hour before bed.
  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day, even on weekends. Your bedtime routine should be consistent and have some sort of ritual to it.   A soothing ritual, like taking a bath or playing music will help you wind down. Relaxation and stress management techniques, such as deep breathing and progressive.
  • Keep track of how much sleep you are getting.  Excessive daytime napping may interfere with your ability to fall asleep at night.