By: Marie Villeza, Elder Impact
You may have noticed yourself having more difficulty falling and staying asleep as you’ve grown older. While this is common, it is not normal. Poor sleep is not a simple consequence of aging, and it’s usually linked to other factors surrounding your lifestyle and environment. Your sleep has a huge impact on your overall health and quality of life, so you owe it to yourself to find out what these factors are and what you can do to achieve true restful sleep.
Your Bedroom Environment
Most of us don’t put too much thought into how the environment in our bedroom can help us sleep, but we really should. Taking the time to create a relaxing, comfortable space can make the difference between lying awake tossing and turning and dozing off peacefully.
First of all, check whether you are using the right mattress. Our bodies can become more sensitive to pain and discomfort when we grow older, making a mediocre mattress an actual health risk. This guide by Tuck on the best mattresses for seniors is extremely detailed and explains all the features you should be looking for in a great mattress, such as support, firmness, and pressure relief.
You should also make sure that you have good air quality in your home, as pollutants, allergens, and especially dryness can all lead to discomfort and illness which have proven to keep you up at night. A humidifier can do wonders to improve your home’s air quality and, as a result, your sleep. This can be particularly helpful if you have a hard time sleeping because of respiratory issues. Make sure to check online reviews to find the best humidifiers on the market.
The relationship between diet and sleep is often misunderstood, with most people assuming it’s just the food you eat in the few hours before bed that make a difference. It’s true that you should be avoiding certain foods before bed, such as chocolate, alcohol, and fatty foods. However, it’s more complicated than that.
According to NBC, an overall healthy diet allows our bodies to properly absorb the nutrients our body needs to get a good night’s sleep. It also prevents digestive problems such as indigestion which can keep us up at night. A healthy diet can give us the energy we need to maintain an active lifestyle (more on that below). This means it’s not just about what you have for dinner—although a lighter evening meal could help—but your diet as a whole.
Unlike diet, when it comes to exercise, it’s not really about how much we work out during the day at all. While it may be easier to fall asleep when you are tired from strenuous activity, it’s the regular act of exercising that makes the biggest difference in your quality of sleep. More importantly, the two feed into each other: Better sleep leads to improved exercise, which leads to better sleep (and so forth).
This means it’s essential to incorporate fitness into your daily routine. A good place to start is by investing in a pedometer or fitness tracker to help you get a handle on your physical health. These instruments can track daily steps, distance traveled, and calories burned, which can increase motivation and give you a clear idea of how much exercise you are getting.
Improving your diet, exercise habits, and sleep environment is likely to make a big difference to your quality of sleep. However, if you are still unable to get the sleep you need after making these changes, it may be time to see your doctor. A doctor can diagnose you if you have a sleep disorder and counsel you on any additional steps you can take. Whatever your situation is, a good night’s rest is something you deserve and is within reach, so don’t settle for poor sleep.