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Senior sleep is the highest priority of any senior. It’s not just to have a good night’s rest and feel refreshed and rejuvenated for the day ahead. It’s also about maintaining your health, as well as your personal, social, physical, and mental wellbeing. Unfortunately for seniors, there are many factors that can affect their sleep patterns — from medication side-effects to the loss of a partner or loved one.
However, there are certain essential tips that can help you sleep more soundly in this new season of life.
Sleep on a Comfortable Surface
Our bodies are not used to sleeping on hard surfaces, as we normally do when we’re young. Thus, it is only natural that you feel pain in your back and joints when sleeping on a hard surface. To fix this problem for good, try switching to a softer bed, or at least one with adjustable bed frames and headboards. This will allow you to adjust the level of comfort depending on how you feel that night.
Keep Regular Sleep Hours
Developing a comfortable bedtime routine can also help seniors get a good night’s sleep. If possible, go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each day. By adhering to a regular routine, your elderly loved one will be more prepared for regular bedtime and will be able to fall asleep without interruption. As an added benefit, it will also improve their concentration and attention.
There’s nothing more stressful than not being able to sleep at the right time every night. If you must, stay up as late as you want, but try to get to sleep at a time that is most convenient for your body. Needless to say, your sleep pattern should be something that comes naturally and not something that you have to force yourself into. You must also learn tips to improve deep sleep continuity.
Turn Down the Lights
The brighter your bedroom gets the more awake you will feel. Thus, dimming down the lights and using a lamp instead of an overhead light is usually a good start. This way, you are able to create ambiance while ensuring that your eyes do not need to strain in order for them to be able to adjust themselves from the sunlight (or streetlight, etc.)
Use Earplugs If Necessary
If you live in a noisy neighborhood, you can use earplugs to feel more focused at night. Though they’d only be effective if your roommate is a light sleeper as well, so try placing an earplug on each side of your head with the tip pointed toward your nose. It’s best to keep the lightest ones around in case they’re too lightweight for you if you are going to be sleeping with someone else.
Sleep on the Backs of Your Knees
It may feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but it’s a great way to relieve lower back and neck pain — the two most common aches that older people complain of. Lie down on your back with both knees bent over your chest, then let them hang over the edge of the bed. The pressure you are putting on your knees will force your spine to curve into a natural position, which will take off the pressure from your lower back and neck.
Avoid Sleeping Pills If Possible
Sleeping pills like Ambien are great for those who are desperate for a good night’s sleep, but they come with the risk of causing memory problems and drowsiness in the daytime. Thus, it is best to get some advice from your doctor before taking one of these medications. You can take selective supplements like melatonin for sleep but with the permission from your doctor.
Turn Down the Heat
If you are a heavy sweater, then you have to close the heating vents in order for your body to adapt to it. The same goes for an overly hot bathroom heater, or too much room heat at night if you are sleeping on your own (or with one other person). In both cases, you will be tempted to turn up the temperature in order for yourself to feel more comfortable. However, by doing so, you’ll only end up overheating and waking up in the middle of the night trying to cool down again.
Ask for Help If Needed
If you are having a hard time waking up in the morning, ask a family member or close friend to help wake you up every day. If your roommate is a heavy sleeper, this will be the only way for you to sleep through the night without being late for work or school. However, it usually works best if he/she practices gentle nudging instead of knocking on the door, just in case you happen to be sleeping more soundly than usual that night.
Make the Evening Routine Relaxing and Quiet
Try to avoid turning on loud TV shows or having phone calls in the evenings, as they will only disrupt your regular sleeping pattern. Instead, have an aural or visual stimulant if needed. For example, you can watch a music video for half an hour before turning off the lights (try one whose lyrics support your cause), read a short chapter from a book, or simply listen to soft music.
As we age, our bodies change. While we may need less sleep than we did when we were younger, our bodies change and our sleep needs change. If you want to maximize your quality of life, you should take the time to learn about these changes. It’s also important to make sure your environment is safe for your senior family members. This is because they can have trouble falling asleep.