A senior woman recently described the following problem:
The older I get, the more trouble I have sleeping and, since my husband died after 53 years of marriage, it’s gotten worse. I find I don’t feel as good during the day as a result, even though I take long naps. What can I do?
Cutting down on your napping during the day and increasing your exercise are ways that may help. Here are other tips from sleep experts:
- Establish a routine sleep schedule.
- Avoid utilizing bed for activities other than sleep or intimacy.
- Avoid substances that disturb your sleep, like alcohol or caffeine.
- If you must nap, limit the time to less than one hour and no later than 3 p.m.
- Stick to rituals that help you relax each night before bed. This can include such things as a warm bath, a light snack or a few minutes of reading.
- Don’t take your worries to bed. Bedtime is a time to relax, not to hash out the stresses of the day.
- If you can’t fall asleep, leave your bedroom and engage in a quiet activity. Return to bed only when you are tired.
- Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and a little cool.
Getting the adequate amount of sleep is vital to healthy aging, according to a study of more than 2,000 women from the University of California at San Diego. In fact, the best predictors of this successful aging were less daytime napping and fewer complaints of sleep maintenance insomnia. Sleep maintenance insomnia is waking up early and not being able to fall back asleep.
“Our findings that reports of better sleep are related to successful aging reinforce the idea that good sleep is of utmost importance for good health,” said study author Sonia Ancoli-Israel, PhD, of the University of California at San Diego.
It would be a good idea to talk to your doctor to make sure that there is no physical reason you are having problems at night. If he or she suggests more exercise, why not join a walking club? It could be motivation to get out and about. If a little extra companionship would be of help, contact Home Instead Senior Care. The company hires CAREGivers to go into the homes of seniors to help them with their at-home care needs. Many are seniors themselves who like to participate in activities and hobbies with other seniors.
For more information about Home Instead Senior Care, call 515-978-7991or visit www.homeinstead.com. For more information about the study, log on to: http://www.touchneurology.com/gallery/sleeping-aging-and-dementia-dr-sonia-ancoli-israel-tay-gavin-erickson-lecture-series