10 simple things that lead to better sleep

It's a common misconception that older adults don't need as much sleep as younger people do. In fact, studies show that people aged 55 and up still need about 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep a night. It varies from person to person, but not from age group.

How you feel in the morning is the best indicator of whether or not you're getting the sleep you need. If you frequently wake up feeling tired and continue feeling that way throughout the day, you're probably not getting the sleep you need.

Although sleep patterns (sleepiness earlier at night and rising earlier in the morning) may change as you age, disturbed sleep and waking up tired in the morning are not a normal part of aging.

Here are ten simple things you can do to help improve your sleep at night.

Stick to a set schedule

It helps to have a regular sleep schedule where you go to bed and get up at the same time each day--whether it's the weekend or not.

 

Regular exercise helps you get to sleep and then stay asleep

Try not to exercise too close to bedtime, though.

 

Don't nap too much

Napping excessively during the day or too late in the afternoon can hamper sleep.

 

Don't drink caffeine or alcohol too close to bedtime

Caffeine will keep you up. And although alcohol may help you get to sleep, it will hurt your chances of staying asleep.

 

Get some sunlight every afternoon

This helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle.

 

Turn off your screens at bedtime

Research shows that watching television in bed, working on a laptop, or playing games on your iPad or smart phone can hamper sleep. Experts suggest that reading a book instead (old school style - on paper!) will help you get to sleep.

 

Discuss your medications with your doctor

Many prescription medicines may interfere with sleep. Your doctor can let you know which ones you need to take earlier in the day, or he may even decrease your dose to allow for better sleep.

 

Develop soothing bedtime rituals

Some people like to listen to relaxing music, practice meditation, or read a book. Find what relaxes you before bedtime and make it a regular routine.

 

Limit your liquid intake before bed

Try not to drink liquids a couple of hours before bedtime, so you don't wake up to go to the bathroom more than necessary.

 

Make relaxation your goal, rather than sleep

If you just can't fall asleep, try not to get stressed out about it. Concentrate on just relaxing instead. Meditate while lying in bed, practice deep breathing, and remind yourself that good relaxation is almost as beneficial as sleep.

If these tips don't seem to be doing the trick, visit your doctor and tell her about your sleep concerns.

Getting the sleep you need is important for good health and well-being!