June 1, 2021
The importance of sleep
We all spend about one-third of our lives sleeping. That’s a lot of time and it goes to excellent use! Research shows that quality sleep is important for everyone. Sleep not only helps our bodies to rest and rejuvenate, but it also enables our brains to better learn and remember.
A good night’s sleep brings lots of important benefits. Good sleep can:
- boost your mood
- make it easier to stay active
- help keep your metabolism at a healthy rate and support you in maintaining your weight
- enhance memory and concentration the following day
- reduce risks of falls
- increase cognitive abilities
Sadly, good sleep doesn’t come easily for seniors1. This happens for many reasons. First, melatonin— an essential sleep hormone – decreases as we age. This change in melatonin levels explains why many seniors get tired earlier in the evening, wake up earlier in the morning, and/or suffer insomnia (e.g., have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep). Second, many disorders – like sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, kidney or prostate issues, and even depression – can impact sleep2. Third, medications such as beta blockers or antidepressants can interfere with sleep. Finally, of course, pain and discomfort may also keep people awake3.
Luckily, there are several simple things that you can do to improve the quality of your sleep. During the day, try these tips:
- Ideally, get at least one hour of daylight exposure each day to maintain circadian rhythms4.
- Limit naps. If you do take a nap, limit it to 20-30 minutes and aim for earlier in the day.
- Avoid watching TV or snacking in bed. Make your bed primarily a place just for sleeping.
- Avoid caffeine throughout the day as its effects last longer as one ages.
- Stay active during the day with regular exercise and social interactions.
And then at night:
- Limit alcohol late in the evenings. A nightcap may help you fall asleep but it won’t help you stay asleep.
- Reduce stress and relax before bedtime.
- Avoid screens (e.g., TV, phones, tablets) in the hours before bed.
- Follow a consistent bedtime routine. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends.
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and be sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool.
- Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night5.
Managing your own or a loved one’s sleeping pattern takes time, but regulating a person’s sleep routine can vastly improve quality of life. Sleep well and make the waking hours even better!
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Winter Growth’s founder dreamed of creating a community where seniors and adults with disabilities could continue to learn and grow – filling their lives with joy and purpose. For over 40 years, we have fulfilled her vision by providing unique, affordable Assisted Living/Memory Care and Adult Medical Day Care tailored to our clients’ individual abilities, interests, and lives.