3 Healthy Sleep Habits for Seniors
We know you want to spend your senior years taking it easy. Depending on your personality type, that may mean simply kicking back and relaxing or living it up and knocking those items off your bucket list one by one. But regardless of how you want to spend your waking hours, most of us would like to be able to get a restful night’s sleep.
Solterra Senior Living understands how important it is to practice healthy sleep habits for easy Arizona retirement living. Here are some simple habits you can start practicing now to improve your sleep pattern.
1. Increase Melatonin Levels
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Some people take supplements to increase melatonin levels. However, there are things you can do to increase your melatonin levels naturally as well.
First, dim the lights a couple of hours before bedtime. Harsh, overhead lights aren’t conducive to a good night’s sleep. Also, avoid checking your phone or computer as it gets closer to bedtime. These devices emit blue and green light that can interfere with your body’s melatonin.
If you must use these devices in the evening, put on a screen filter that blocks the blue and green wavelengths. Also, if you have a habit of watching TV prior to bedtime, make sure you are at least six feet away from the television. Limiting your exposure to artificial light a couple of hours before bedtime will help you sleep much better.
In addition to avoiding artificial light before bedtime, try to get a good amount of natural light early on in the day. In the morning or afternoon, take a walk outside or sit by a window. Getting an adequate amount of sun exposure early in the day will help your body produce melatonin in the evening.
2. Improve Diet and Exercise
Diet and exercise also have a significant impact on our ability to get a restful night’s sleep. Again, it’s important to be mindful of your habits as you get closer to the end of the day. Avoid food and beverages with caffeine such as coffee, soda, and chocolate.
You should also avoid drinking alcohol too close to bedtime. Though you may think it makes you sleepy, it can actually interfere with a good night’s rest. In fact, it’s best to limit your overall liquid intake just before bed. This will reduce the number of times you have to wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.
You should also cut out sugary and spicy foods before bedtime. Spicy foods can lead to indigestion, and foods high in sugar or carbs can also keep you awake at night. Instead, eat a modest-sized dinner a few hours before you go to bed.
Finally, try to exercise daily. It doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous. Something as simple as a brisk walk or a daily swim can release chemicals in your body that improve sleep.
3. Reduce Mental Stress
In order for the body to rest, the mind must be at ease also. Think about what activities make you feel most at peace. It could be journaling, mediation, or mindful breathing. You may also want to listen to calming music before you go to bed or take up a relaxing activity like reading a good book. Just remember to keep the lights dim and use a bedside or reading light instead of an overhead light. When you’re not worried or stressed, your body will be more relaxed.
If you have insomnia or a sleep disorder, consider consulting a doctor. In the meantime, practice these simple, healthy habits to rest a little easier.