Sleep impacts mood and daily functioning. Insufficient sleep often leads to symptoms of depression or anxiety in the elderly, and hampers the ability to engage in social interactions and physical activities. Prioritizing sleep leads to improved mood, memory, and quality of life.
Here are some tips for improving sleep quality:
Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule
Establishing a regular sleep-wake cycle is key. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps to regulate your body’s internal clock and optimize your sleep.
Limit Screen Time and Blue Light Exposure Before Bed
The light from electronics and bright lights suppresses melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep. Avoid looking at bright screens 1-2 hours before bed.
Engage in regular exercise during the day, which can improve sleep at night. However, avoid strenuous workouts close to bedtime. Relaxing activities like yoga or stretching are better options in the evening.
While short power naps can be okay, longer naps (in an electric lift chair or a sofa) during the day can interfere with nighttime sleep. Limit naps to 30 minutes and avoid napping after mid-afternoon.
Practice Relaxation Techniques Before Bed
Do some light stretches, read a book, or listen to calming music. Deep breathing, meditation, and a warm bath can help relax your mind and body, making it easier to fall asleep.
See a Doctor if Needed
If you continue to struggle with sleep, talk to your doctor. They may refer you to a sleep specialist who can evaluate if there are any underlying conditions and recommend appropriate treatment options, such as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia or light therapy.
You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to prioritize sleep as you age. A good night’s rest is essential for your health, safety, mood, and overall quality of life. While aging brings many challenges, establishing a consistent sleep schedule and sleep-supportive habits are two things within your control that can have an outsized positive impact. Make the time for sleep a non-negotiable part of your daily routine and you will reap the benefits of feeling well-rested, recharged, and able to fully participate in life’s moments both big and small. Your future self will thank you.