7 Things Seniors Can Do for a Better Night’s Sleep
As we get older, our bodies change, and oh, don’t we know it. Our skin loses elasticity and begins to sag. We develop frown lines and wrinkles around our eyes. We lose the ability to be as physically active as we once were. And we don’t seem to be able to sleep. Yet, those in their 60s or older need just as much sleep, if not more than 40-somethings. So how can seniors sleep better at night? If you are a senior and have trouble sleeping, we have a few tricks for you to try.
How can seniors sleep better at night?
Before we get into some tips and tricks on how seniors can sleep better at night, let’s discuss the reasons it is harder to get a good night’s sleep in the first place. It turns out that as you age, your body produces lower growth hormone levels. The human growth hormone (hGH) is a natural hormone produced in your pituitary gland that promotes growth when you are young. As you age, hGH no longer increases your height since the growth plates have fused. And, with this lower production of hGH, you’ll likely experience a decrease in deep or slow wave sleep.
As this happens, your body produces less melatonin. With less melatonin in your body, it is harder to stay asleep, so you may wake up frequently during the night or feel the urge for short cat naps during the day. Many seniors like to go to bed earlier at night and wake up earlier in the morning. Or, they may find that they spend longer in bed at night trying to get enough sleep.
All of these experiences are normal. But they sure don’t help us get the rest we need. So this again begs the question, “How can seniors sleep better at night?”
Tips For A Better Night’s Sleep
If you are having trouble sleeping or suffer from insomnia, we have some suggestions for you to try. Read on for some tips from your dentist near The Villages so you can catch some shut-eye.
1. Avoid those afternoon siestas.
Afternoon naps can be something to look forward to. But naps can mess with your circadian rhythm, making it harder for you to fall asleep at night. Not only that, but according to the Mayo Clinic, napping could make your insomnia worse. Naps late in the day might especially keep you from getting a good night’s rest. If an afternoon nap feels like a necessary part of your day because of tiredness, it might be time to look into why you’re not feeling well rested. Sleep apnea, for example, could be the culprit.
2. Try a night-time boost of melatonin.
As we mentioned earlier, your body produces melatonin. But, as we get older, that production lessens. So, if you are experiencing a lack of sleep and have trouble falling asleep, try a melatonin supplement at bedtime. It may help you fall asleep faster and keep you from waking up during the night.
3. Turn off the screens.
Many of us think that watching television for a couple of hours or catching up with family over text is the best way to relax before bed. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Just like kids need some wind-down time before bed, so do adults. Television screens and cell phones are stimulating and can actually energize you rather than relax you. So try to limit your screen time for the two hours preceding your planned bedtime.
4. Try a night guard to reduce bruxism and jaw clenching.
Many adults’ tension is released at night, unbeknownst to them. Bruxism occurs when patients grind, clench, or gnash their teeth, usually at night while sleeping. And people with nighttime bruxism may be more likely to have other sleep disorders too. If you wake up in the morning with a sore jaw or mouth, you may have been clenching or grinding in your sleep. Ask your dentist for a custom-fitted nightguard. These oral devices protect your teeth and keep them from coming into contact with each other. Not only does this help you sleep better, but it can help prevent wear and tear on your teeth.
5. Practice self-care each day to help you manage your stress.
Be sure to prioritize your own needs during the day. Like a flight attendant tells us on flights, secure your own mask before helping others. If you are stressed, be sure you are taking time for yourself before dedicating yourself to others. Some great strategies for self-care include taking time to journal, taking a warm bath, getting a massage, meditating, or going for a walk. Take some time for yourself each day. Not only will you be able to help others better because you focused on yourself first, but you’ll likely get a better night’s rest.
6. Talk to your physician if you show signs of sleep apnea.
If you snore, breathe through your mouth at night, wake up in the morning with a dry mouth, or have other signs and symptoms of sleep apnea, be sure to contact your primary care provider. Sleep apnea is a common disorder for older people, especially those over age 65. Your doctor can help diagnose you and then help you get started with a treatment plan that will help you rest better at night.
7. Build a bedtime routine.
A lack of sleep can wreak havoc on your whole body. When you are overly tired, you may experience daytime drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, and you may be more likely to make mistakes. But as with any routine, bedtime routines help establish habits and get our brains and bodies used to doing the same thing around the same time each day, such as going to sleep. And, practicing the same behaviors in the same order each night before bed helps signal your brain that it is time to wind down and sleep.
Let your dentist know if you are having trouble sleeping at night.
Trust us, you won’t be the only one who has come to us asking how seniors can sleep better at night. So if you are struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, let us know because we might be able to help. Be sure to keep up on your oral health so that a toothache doesn’t become the reason you are having trouble sleeping. Request an appointment with Laurel Manor Dental today.