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Welcome to the latest edition of Senior Snippets: the monthly advisory column with the older members of the community in mind, brought by Bryn Evans of Home Instead Senior Care in Barnsley.
As we age we often experience normal changes in our sleeping patterns, such as becoming sleepy earlier, waking up earlier, or enjoying less deep sleep. Sleep is just as important to our physical and emotional health as it was when we were younger.
These tips can help you overcome age-related sleep problems and get a good night’s rest.
Maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day, even on weekends.
Keep busy. Social activities, seeing the family, volunteering or learning something new can all help exercise the mind and tire it out for the night.
Don’t watch TV or look at a tablet or computer for an hour before bedtime. Doing these activities can suppress melatonin levels and affect subsequent sleep.
Use diet and exercise to improve sleep. Two of the daytime habits that most affect sleep are diet and exercise. As well as eating a healthy diet during the day, it’s particularly important to watch what you put in your body in the hours before bedtime.
Develop soothing bedtime rituals. Taking a bath, playing music, or practicing a relaxation technique such as meditation or deep breathing can help you wind down.
Limit caffeine late in the day. Avoid caffeine (from coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate) late in the day.
Minimise liquid intake before sleep. Limit what you drink within the hour and a half before bedtime.
Get out into the sunshine. Sunshine regulates melatonin levels and hence affects sleep cycles. Try to get outside for a little while every day. When at home, open the curtains during the day and move your chair into a sunny spot of the room.
It is important to remember that just because you are sleeping less, it doesn't necessarily mean you have sleep ‘problems’. However, if you are not sleeping well, having to get up frequently at night, or not waking up feeling refreshed, consider visiting the doctor for more advice and information.
To make a suggestion for a future topic, please contact Bryn Evans.