An important part of being healthy involves getting enough sleep, yet over 50 percent of older adults complain about their ability to sleep. Not getting enough sleep is associated with the beginnings of some chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes and depression. Lack of sleep may also thwart treatments of these conditions. If sleepiness interferes with daily activities, try these easy sleep hygiene solutions to have a better quality of rest:
- Avoid caffeine at least eight hours before bedtime. Also avoid large meals and snacking before sleeping.
- Stick to a regular bedtime, and get up at the same time each morning, even on weekends. Limit daytime napping to 20 minutes a day.
- Sleep in a dark, quiet and relaxing environment with a comfortable temperature.
- Don’t drink alcohol close to bedtime.
- Make sure the bed is comfortable. Use it only for sleeping and not for watching TV, reading or listening to music.
- Take time to relax before sleep.
- Train your brain that bed is for sleeping. Remove all TVs, computers and other devices that may be lighted or disturbing.
- Try to exercise a little every day. Exercise helps many older adults sleep better.
Most adults need seven or eight hours of sleep every night to feel fully alert during the day. Sometimes, insufficient rest occurs because of sleep disorders, including:
- Insomnia: the inability to fall or stay asleep.
- Narcolepsy: excessive daytime sleepiness combined with sudden muscle weakness.
- Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS): periodic leg movements due to unpleasant aches and pains throughout the legs.
- Sleep Apnea: interrupted sleep caused by suspension of breathing followed by periodic gasping or snorting sounds.
As we age, our sleep patterns may change. After all, life happens. Illness, medications, pain, emotions and even retirement are special circumstances that can affect sleep. If sleeplessness becomes troublesome, it may be important to receive an evaluation by a healthcare provider.
Get more information at Getting a Better Night’s Sleep with Dr. Morris B. Chang.
Thursday, March 26, 1:30 p.m.
Wesley Homes Des Moines – The Terrace Auditorium