Many seniors have trouble sleeping at night no matter how tired they feel throughout the day.
There are all kinds of factors that can contribute to restless nights, but if you take good enough care of your body and get it on a schedule, sleep should come easier, and when you want it to.
1. Eat the Right Foods
Eating healthy is an essential part to helping your body rest easy at night. This means avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and sugary or acidic foods and drinks in the hours before bedtime.
Any of these things can keep you up when it's time to sleep. On the flipside, some foods that can help you sleep include:
- Hard Boiled Eggs
- Plain yogurt
2. Get Up At The Same Time Every Day
If you're having trouble sleeping at night, you should strongly consider getting your body on a more regular sleep schedule.
One of the easiest things you can do to accomplish this is to simply get up at the same time every morning. Set your alarm to whatever time you want to start the day (don't sleep in too late), and get up when your alarm goes off every single day - even the weekends.
If you're using an alarm clock, it can also help to use one that you cannot see in the dark. If you can see your clock in the dark, turn it away from you so that it's facing the opposite direction. This way the light won't keep you awake.
3. Go To Bed At The Same Time Every Day
Just as you should get up at the same time every day, you should also go to bed at the same time every evening. This too will help your body learn the difference between when it should be up and when it should be resting. There may be reasons to stay up later from time to time, but try to stick to the schedule as best as possible.
4. Avoid Naps
Getting up and going to bed at the same times every day is key to a healthy sleep schedule, but just as important is avoiding naps throughout the day.
If you've been having trouble sleeping at night, chances are you relish any opportunity to take a nap, but try to avoid this as best you can until you get settled into a normal sleep pattern. After that, the urge to take a nap won't be so strong because you should be getting enough rest at night — about 7-8 hours is ideal.
If you do feel you must take a nap, try to limit it to no longer than 20 or 30 minutes.
5. Exercise & Social activity
Finally, make sure you're getting enough physical activity. Studies have shown that regular exercise can be effective for helping people sleep and combat insomnia.
Luckily, exercise can include any number of activities, including dancing, golfing, or simply walking. For example, South Vancouver Neighbourhood House can be a great resource for exercise and social interactions. Check out the Seniors Programs section for more info!
Ultimately, these five tips can be boiled down to taking care of your body and keeping it on a schedule. This sounds relatively simple, but it can be easier said than done. The trick is to stick to all of it and train your body to know when it's time to get some shut-eye.
Jim Vogel and his wife, Caroline, created ElderAction.org after they began caring for their ailing parents. Through that rewarding and sometimes difficult process they’ve learned a lot about senior care and specifically the need for more effective senior mental health and support.
Their website offers elder-positive resources and other helpful information on aging. In his spare time, Jim loves fishing, reading, and spending time with his kids.
We welcome your tips on what helps to make you sleep better in the comments below.