If you have trouble falling and staying asleep, you’re not alone. Sleep patterns change as we age with older adults usually waking up more often than they’re used to. Getting the right amount of sleep can help you achieve holistic health, or wellness for your mind, body, and mood. According to the National Institutes of Health, getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep can also help protect against many conditions, including depression, heart disease, obesity and dementia. Here are some tips on how you can improve your sleep habits to get a full night’s rest:
Create a relaxing routine
Following a calming bedtime routine can support healthy sleep. Each night before going to bed, take a few moments to relax and put your body at ease. A few ways you can do this is by reading a book, listening to soothing music, taking a warm bath, or using relaxing scents in your space. Avoiding common distractions like televisions, smartphones, and bright lights can also help you wind down making it less difficult to fall asleep.
Watch what you eat
Your quality of sleep can be affected by what you consume and when you consume it. According to research from the National Library of Medicine, eating high-calorie meals less than an hour before bedtime can increase the time it takes to fall asleep. Instead, eat large meals at least four hours before going to bed. In case you get hungry before then, it is a good idea to keep healthy snack options close by.
Consuming alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine late in the day can also make sleep more challenging.
Working out does more than keep us physically fit. It can also improve sleep, especially for older adults. According to the Sleep Foundation, older adults who exercise regularly fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and report better quality of sleep. This is because working out tires the body, reducing the time it takes to fall asleep and allowing for deeper sleep. Physical activity can also help reduce daytime sleepiness so that you can take less naps and follow a consistent sleep schedule.
Keep a regular sleep schedule
The best way to support your body’s natural sleep-wake pattern is to follow a sleep schedule that allows you to get 7 to 9 hours of rest. A sleep schedule can help train your body to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. Some situations, like traveling or working late shifts, can interrupt your body’s sleep-wake cycle, so plan ahead to make sure you can still get the amount of rest you need. Be careful about napping during the day or close to your bedtime too as this can also affect your body’s need for sleep.