Sleep is a crucial aspect of our daily lives, but many of us fail to get enough quality sleep regularly. Patterns of sleep can change as we grow older, and we need to adjust our sleep habits to live our healthiest life.The Pavilion Senior Living, with senior care communities in Tennessee and West Virginia, recognizes that sleep is just as important as diet and exercise for our residents to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This is why we are taking a closer look at how seniors and sleep work together.
How Sleep Changes as We Age
Depending on your stage of life, the amount of sleep needed per night changes. Children and adolescents require more sleep than adults. But how much sleep do older adults need to function properly throughout the day? Adults and seniors need about the same amount of sleep, seven to nine hours per night; however, achieving these hours is more difficult for older adults. One study of adults 65 years and older found that 13% of men and 36% of women take longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep.
There are many reasons that seniors have trouble getting the proper amount of sleep every night. Changes in the body play a significant role in this. Pain or feeling ill can cause problems with falling or staying asleep. Furthermore, certain medications can be the root of the issue.
What about the natural changes in the body as it ages? “Older adults may produce and secrete less melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep (Sleep Education).” In addition, seniors may become lighter sleepers, making them more sensitive to changes in their sleeping environment, such as movement or noise. This could cause an individual to wake up more frequently throughout the night and have difficulty falling back asleep.
The Importance of Sleep for Seniors
In general, the importance of sleep is obvious. It is how we recover from the day before and reset for the next. It allows our bodies to refresh, increasing our focus and attention for the day ahead, and allowing the damaged cells in our bodies to repair.
Specific to seniors, sleep is important because it helps prevent problems with memory and the immune system. In fact, “older adults who do not sleep well are more likely to suffer from depression, attention and memory problems, excessive daytime sleepiness, and experience more nighttime falls (HelpGuide).”
Tips for Better Sleep Habits
Stay Active During the Day
Exercise and physical activity have been shown to help people sleep better. Strive to be active every day! However, it recommended that you do not exercise within three hours of going to bed, as this could actually inhibit sleep.
Stick to a Sleep Schedule
It is common for older adults to get sleepy earlier in the evenings and wake up earlier in the mornings. Whatever your internal time clock says, be consistent. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Yes, even on the weekends! This will train your brain on a subconscious level to want to go to sleep at a certain time, making it easier for you to fall asleep.
Create a Bedtime Routine
Teach your brain to know when it is time for sleep. Make time to wind down each night by reading or taking a bath. Find what relaxes you and repeat it every evening.
Take Smart Naps
Limit your naps to no longer than 45 minutes. Longer naps tend to leave you feeling groggy or disoriented for the rest of the day and could prevent you from falling asleep at night. Try to take your naps in the early afternoon and avoid napping too late in the day.
Pay Attention to Your Environment
Our surroundings play a large role in the quality of our sleep. Uncomfortable conditions can make it difficult or impossible to fall asleep or stay asleep. Make sure the room is cool and dark, with limited to no distractions.
The way our bodies function can change as we age, and sleep is one of them. Educating yourself on health issues and proactively taking steps to improve your sleep will go a long way.
The Pavilion Senior Living, with communities throughout Tennessee and West Virginia, offers seniors a place where they can do just that.
Visit our website to find a community that will compliment your new sleep routine.