Reported in a Gallup Poll of 1,000 adults over age 50, 32% get a good night’s sleep every night. Now this is a problem, since “good sleep” was ranked, in this survey, as more important than interpersonal relationships by the same group!
Proper sleep can help improve:
- memory formation
- repairs cell damage
- immune system functioning
- your mood
- chronic pain
- tomorrow night’s sleep!
Why should this be so difficult for us?
Sleep-regulating hormones change as people get older and this leads to more rapid sleep cycles. Night waking and fragmented sleep can increase and deep sleep can decrease. You awake feeling you haven’t really had enough rest. Do you awake feeling “unrested”?
Sleep Pattern Shifting . . . and the multiple-Bathroom-Visit Cycle
Hormone shifts can make seniors want to go to bed earlier, then get up earlier. Have you noticed this? This can be fine, but could develop other sleep problems such as anxiety, depression, or physical pain. Then, of course, we have bladder problems that cause the need for repeat night-time bathroom visits. It’s hard to sleep when you awake routinely and you’ve got to go!
Lack of Physical Activity
Lack of exercise can cause people to feel tired, or even too tired to go to sleep. The secret is exercise. Exercise releases chemicals promoting sleep. A short daily walk, some gardening or other low-impact activities can improve the quality of your sleep.
Daylight exposure from outside exercise can help regulate natural circadian rhythms. This too can promote a restful sleep. Sitting in a well-lit window can do this as well.
Friends or caregivers can help with stress. Emotional issues, grief from a departed spouse or friend, may need the help of trained medical professionals. Having someone to talk with more frequently, though, can help as a way to express small worries and concerns.
Back to the early afternoon nap! Short naps can be a bridge to alertness between an early morning and a healthy bedtime.
Quick Tips for a better sleep
Less Caffeine after Lunch
Lunch meal bigger than dinner
Alcohol with a meal is better than at bedtime
Exercise or outdoor activity early in the day
Regular sleep and waking times
Calming routine before bedtime
Avoid bedtime television
Let go of fears and worries by talking or writing them
Keep the bed for sleeping, not reading or watching television
If you lie there unable to sleep, get up and do something calming
Consult a health care provider please, for serious or long-term disorders.