5 Nighttime Routines to Improve Sleep in SeniorsMake text bigger | Make text smaller
5 Nighttime Routines to Improve Sleep in Seniors
Building a regular nighttime routine is the best way to train a restless mind to sleep. Following a certain pattern signals the mind that it’s time to sleep and makes falling asleep easier. Insomnia can cause depression, anxiety, stress, and lowered function during the day. With the high rate of insomnia among seniors, it’s important to resolve any issues disrupting sleep patterns. Here are a few useful routines to begin working into your evening schedule.
1. Make Some Herbal Tea
Chamomile tea is a centuries-old sleep remedy that is still widely used today. Drinking a
soothing, warm liquid is a great way to settle down and relax. If chamomile isn’t a flavor you enjoy, any herbal tea will do. It’s important that the tea is caffeine-free and unsweetened as the caffeine and sugar will keep you awake longer. No matter the flavor, tea is a perfect way to end a night and start to tell your brain it’s time to sleep.
A few minutes of meditation before bed can help you shed the stress of the day and quiet
3. Put on Pajamas
Changing into your favorite sleeping clothes is another way to subtly tell your mind to begin
preparing for bed. Of course, this isn’t an instant cure for restlessness but rather becomes useful with repetition. Like training anything, repeating an action with a following consequence is the best way to create the response you want. In this case, you put your pajamas on fifteen minutes before you go to bed every night. Your brain learns that when the pajamas are on, it has fifteen minutes to wind down. This will help it begin to shut down and let you feel tired at the appropriate time.
4. Maintain a Timetable
Though sleeping in on your free days and staying up late can feel very tempting, your brain needs a reliable nighttime routine. Throwing off the expected routine can confuse the mind, resulting in sleeplessness. If the brain expects to sleep at 10pm but instead stays awake until midnight, it begins receiving conflicting information on when to feel tired. Try not to deviate more than a half an hour from your usual bedtime. Routine is key.
5. Invest in a Good Mattress
All the positive nightly routines in the world can only do you so much good if you do not have a decent mattress. 1/3 of the average person’s life is spent asleep, and a good mattress lasts many years. Some things are worth the extra cost. Do some research and bring a mattress that fits your needs into your home.
Seniors need a reasonable amount of quality sleep if they want to stave off a slew of potential health issues that come with lack of sleep. With the predisposition many seniors have to mental health problems, allowing sleeplessness to become part of your life is not an option. Build the nightly routine that works best for you, and train your mind to let you rest and relax when you need it most.
Jim Vogel and his wife, Caroline, created ElderAction.org after they began caring for their ailing parents. Through that rewarding and sometimes difficult process they’ve learned a lot about senior care and specifically the need for more effective senior mental health and support. Their site offers elder-positive resources and other helpful information on aging. In his spare time, Jim loves fishing, reading, and spending time with his kids.