Dealing with insomnia as you age should not be taken lightly
Sleep problems can plague healthy people at any stage of their lives, but they’re often prone to increased disruptions during their senior living years. That fact should not be minimized or taken lightly; sleep issues can lead to serious ailments if left unchecked.
Depression, lack of attention, memory problems and nighttime falls are only some of the many issues that too little rest can create. If the problem persists, more serious issues can be triggered in heart health and blood pressure, while also increasing the chances of stroke, diabetes and weight gain.
One of the main reasons for a decrease in sleep is often caused by the misconception that our sleep needs decline as we age, according to the National Sleep Foundation. This is simply inaccurate, as people of all ages typically need seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
Six proven steps to better sleep and better health for seniors
Ecumenical Retirement Community’s staff is dedicated to ensuring the mental and physical health of each resident in our independent living community and other levels of care. According to research done by Healthline, poor sleep can have immediate negative effects on brain function, hormones and exercise performance, all of which remain important as one ages.
Conversely, getting seven to nine hours of sleep will lead to healthier eating, better exercise and better cognitive memory functioning. You can build healthy habits by starting slow and making small changes to your daily routine:
- Optimize your sleep environment: As much as possible, the bedroom should be kept strictly for sleeping. If you have a desk in your room or stay up late doing paperwork in bed, your brain may begin to associate your bedroom with working and productivity rather than relaxation. Keep lights low and the space clean and tidy. Consider an essential oil diffuser or white noise machine to create a spa-like environment in your room or senior living apartment.
- Reduce irregular sleep/naps during the day: As enticing as that mid-morning nap may be, it’s probably not in your best interest. A recent study showed participants described feeling increased sleepiness during the day when they slept during the daytime. When you do need to sneak in a power nap, restrict it to 20-25 minutes.
- Take a non–habit forming sleep aid like melatonin to get your body back on track: Sometimes life gets in the way of healthy sleep schedules. If you find it difficult to power down at night, consider turning to healthy supplements like 2 milligrams of melatonin. Other sleep-promoting supplements include magnesium, ginkgo biloba, glycine and valerian root. Consult with your doctor on the best supplement for your unique health concerns before consumption.
- Decrease late day caffeine and alcohol intake: Most people know not to indulge in a late-afternoon/early-evening cup of coffee, but avoiding that can of Coke Zero also positively can impact your night’s rest. According to Healthline, alcohol at night is also known to increase disrupted sleep patterns and symptoms of sleep apnea.
- Unwind with a relaxing bath or shower right before bedtime: Taking a short, refreshing shower right before bed promotes destressing and relaxation before going to sleep.
- If all else fails, consult a doctor to rule out any type of sleep disorder. Prolonged disrupted sleep patterns can be indicative of a serious underlying health condition. A trip to the doctor’s office may help rule out any serious issues.
Senior living services at Ecumenical Retirement Community in Harrisburg, PA
The dedicated, caring staff at Ecumenical Retirement Community offers personalized senior living services according to each resident’s needs. Every co-worker we hire is trained to support seniors in leading purposeful lives and enjoying friendship and independence to the degree they are able to in our senior living community.
If you’re looking for a retirement community and considering a central Pennsylvania retirement home, we hope you will contact us to discover more about Ecumenical Retirement Community. We offer an independent living community and a personal care home, as well as memory support services and restorative care services. We would be glad to schedule a visit for you.