A good night’s sleep is just as important as regular exercise and a healthy and balanced diet, especially as get older.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), well over a third of American adults sleep less than the recommended 7 hours per night. One reason is that most of us don’t prioritize rest. We don’t make room in our busy schedule for those necessary 7 to 9 hours of sleep required for a healthy brain and body. The second reason is that even when we do our best to sleep, things don’t always go as planned and we don’t sleep well.
Poor sleep habits can also cause weight gain and increase disease risk in both adults and children.
Here are 8 great tips to sleep better at night.
Stick to a sleep schedule
Set aside no more than eight hours for sleep. The recommended amount of sleep for a healthy adult is at least seven hours. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Try to limit the difference in your sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends to no more than one hour. Being consistent reinforces your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
Pay attention to what you eat
Don’t go to bed hungry or stuffed. In particular, avoid heavy or large meals within a couple of hours of bedtime. Your discomfort might keep you up.
Reduce or Avoid Caffeine Late in the Day
When consumed late in the day, coffee stimulates your nervous system and may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night.
In one recent study, consuming caffeine up to six hours before bed significantly worsened sleep quality.
Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, and cool,
and your bed is comfortable. We often become more sensitive to noise as we age, and light and heat can also cause sleep problems. Using a sound machine, ear plugs, or a sleep mask can help.
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 before bed.
Swimming laps is a gentle way to build up fitness and is great for sore joints or weak muscles. Many community and YMCA pools have swim programs just for older adults, as well as water-based exercise classes.
Avoid sleep medications
drugs allow sleep but inhibit the deep sleep that we need. One exception is melatonin, an enzyme which lets the brain know that it’s time to sleep. It aids in falling asleep but does not keep you in that state.
in natural sunlight for at least 30 minutes daily. Aim for morning sunlight. Turn down lights before bedtime, avoiding blue LED light.