According to the National Sleep Foundation, it is a “misconception that sleep needs decline with age. In fact, research demonstrates that our sleep needs remain constant throughout adulthood.” While factors such as health and activity levels impact sleep duration, it is estimated that the average adult requires seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Our sleep habits can affect our waking hours and sleep is an essential time for our bodies to rest, relax, and heal.
As we age, advanced sleep phase syndrome can set in, causing the body's internal clock to adjust to earlier bed and wake up times. However, seniors who continue to stay up late, as they did in their younger years, are often more prone to sleep deprivation. Aside from this, there are additional health issues or conditions that could be impacting sleep habits, including menopause, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea.
HarborChase Senior Living communities make senior health a priority* and we know the impact sleep can have on other areas of our lives. We are sharing a few helpful ways to establish healthier sleep habits.
*If you are having trouble falling or staying asleep, it is recommended that you speak with a healthcare professional to ensure there is no underlying health issue.
Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule
One simple step to adjust your sleep habits is to set yourself a sleep schedule. If you find yourself waking up or going to sleep at random times every day/night, your schedule will deteriorate. An irregular sleep schedule can cause drowsiness, irritability, and headaches, while a consistent sleep schedule is an easy way to help our bodies get into a natural rhythm.
Create a Routine for Yourself
A routine before bed is a great way to help you relax your mind and get to sleep. Your routine can be anything that relaxes you and eases the stress from the day. Some people take warm showers, read, or sit outside with nature before calling it a day. Creating a routine that relaxes you will help put your mind and body in a more restful state. It is recommended that the start of your routine consist of turning off all screens, as TV and other electronic devices can keep you awake past the time your body requires sleep.
Adjust The Room Temperature
Believe it or not, the temperature of your room plays a considerable role in your sleeping habits. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, your room may be too hot or too cold. “When you go to sleep, your set point for body temperature -- the temperature your brain is trying to achieve -- goes down,” says H. Craig Heller, Ph.D., a professor from Stanford University.
Before going to bed, make sure that the room is comfortable. Otherwise, you may wake up more during the night.
How Diet Can Impact Our Sleep Habits
What we eat or drink in the evening can affect us and our sleep. Things like caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and even spicy foods can keep us up at night and struggling to sleep.
Appetite and metabolism are also related to sleep. Research by Dr. Van Cauter shows that people who don’t get enough sleep are likely to have bigger appetites since their leptin (an appetite-regulating hormone) levels fall, promoting feelings of increased hunger. This increase can lead to unnecessary weight gain or have adverse effects on senior health.
Exercise and Sleep Habits
Exercise is one of the most natural and healthy ways to expend our body’s energy, so it should come as no shock that it can aid our sleep habits. Exercise doesn’t only help us sleep, but it can actually improve the quality of the sleep we get.
If you find yourself concerned about your sleep habits or the habits of a senior parent or loved one, we encourage you to speak to a healthcare professional. These tips can assist in improving your overall sleep quality, but as previously mentioned, a lack of sleep may be a symptom of an underlying problem.
If you found this article helpful and would like more information regarding senior health or healthy habits, we encourage you to visit our HarborChase Senior Living blog for more!