You've probably heard numbers for how much you should be sleeping each night. Most recommendations hover in the range of 7 to 9 hours for healthy adults of all ages, but it's important to remember that every person is different. How much sleep you need depends on your unique body, mind, lifestyle and health status.
What's more important than the number of hours you sleep is how you feel when you get up in the morning. Think about the past week or two. Have you mostly woken feeling rested and ready for your day? Then you're probably sleeping enough hours, even if the count falls under the average recommended total.
For many older adults, however, the answer to that question is no. Sleep gets harder as we age for a number of reasons. Discover some tips for counteracting sleep challenges below.
Deep sleep, which is also called slow wave sleep, is a phase of sleep that is most refreshing and restful. It's also the type of sleep that you're less likely to wake from if minor noises or disturbances occur.
Unfortunately, deep sleep is partially connected to how much growth hormone your body produces. As someone ages, the body produces less of that hormone, so you're less likely to spend a great deal of time in deep sleep. Add in other factors that come with aging, such as random concerns, aches and pains and trouble getting comfortable, and you may find yourself waking more during the night.
Help encourage longer, more restful sleep by finding ways to reduce those midnight awakenings. Some tips include:
• Use a white noise machine or a fan to create a consistent sound that reduces the impact of sudden minor sounds in the night.
• Avoid drinking a lot of liquid in the hour before bed so you don't wake with the urge to go to the restroom.
• Turn notifications off on electronic devices such as smartphones so a late-night email arrival doesn't wake you.
Poor sleep habits play a huge role in whether or not we get enough rest. If you're someone who has always gone to bed at different times of night depending on what was going on or how you felt that day, you might have created a chaotic sleep schedule that makes it hard for your brain and body to know when it's time to turn "off" for the night.
Consider finding a consistent schedule that works for you. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake at the same time each morning. At first, you might feel tired because you aren't sleeping well. But as you stick to the schedule, you may find you fall asleep easier at night and sleep better.
Many electronic screens emit a blue light that makes it harder to fall asleep. On top of that, the content on your television, computer or smartphone screen is designed to keep you coming back for more. It may also contribute to activity or anxiety in your brain that makes it harder to go to sleep.
If you're having trouble getting a restful night, consider cutting out screens for 30 minutes or an hour before you go to bed. Instead of ending each day with a television show, scrolling on a phone or watching the news, end it reading, making art, writing, prayer or simply enjoying a nice view out your window.
Some medical conditions or the medications that treat them may contribute to sleep issues. Talk to your doctor if you're having trouble sleeping and ask about what you can do to mitigate those issues.
In some cases, you're not sleeping well because your body simply isn't tired enough. Getting enough exercise during the day can help with that. The exercise programs at Bethesda Gardens assisted living community in Fort Worth, Texas, help you stay mobile and active. You can also enjoy movement by walking through the grounds or getting involved with social activities in the community.
If you're not yet a resident of our vibrant assisted living community, look for ways to stay active in and around your own home. Join a gym or senior center and go to group exercise sessions or take regular walks around your neighborhood.
Spend some time outdoors. It encourages physical activity, which can help with sleep. But getting enough sun and light helps your body establish appropriate circadian rhythms.
Think about ways you can reduce stress and anxiety, as those are both enemies of sleep. Some common options include spending time outside, engaging in favorite hobbies, laughing with friends and studying the Bible or praying. And one benefit of becoming a resident in an assisted living community is that many day-to-day burdens are lifted from you. Our residents don't have to worry about cooking nutritious meals, maintaining a home or cleaning, for example, and our caring staff is always available to assist with concerns.