Sleep, in particular the lack thereof, takes up a lot of our thoughts and conversations. For most of us, quality restorative sleep is extremely precious yet such a challenge to obtain on a regular basis. If this sounds like you, what can you do to improve your situation? And, why is it so important that you do?
We all know that we wake up feeling terrific after a good night’s sleep. Sleep is important to your physical and emotional health. It not only helps to improve your concentration and development of memories, it can invigorate the immune system and in turn, help to prevent sickness. It also allows your body to repair any harm to your cells that occurs during the day – possibly resulting in a younger-looking complexion – and who doesn’t want that!
An article published on the SleepEducation.org website outlines the many issues that can occur when we are not sleeping well. It tells us that not sleeping well can lead to depressed mood, attention and memory problems. Constant lack of sleep can also have the tired and weary turning to prescription sleeping pills to help solve the problem. Seniors need about the same amount of sleep as younger adults which is seven to nine hours of sleep per night (3).
Anglican Care’s Nurse Practitioner, Jacqui Culver, suggests that if you are not getting enough sleep, there may be reasonable cause to worry. Lack of sleep can diminish your quality of life and there are some serious effects that can occur.
“You may be more likely to suffer from depression, have memory problems, or an increased likelihood of experiencing falls. That is especially concerning for seniors”, says Jacqui. “There is also an increased risk of serious health problems such as diabetes, weight problems and cardiovascular disease”, states the Nurse Practitioner.
Below are some tips to increase your quality of sleep
- Technology and blue light are known to interrupt our ability to produce the hormones needed to fall asleep. Minimise your screen time after 5pm. If that seems too hard, perhaps an hour or so before bed. Hop off that iPad or phone and grab a good old book!
- A regular bedtime and bedtime rituals can be helpful. Aim to go to bed and wake up at approximately the same time most days and avoid having a sleep in. This will keep your body clock in check. Ensure your room is dark, it’s quiet and you feel comfortable.
- A warm bath can work wonders in helping you to relax and slow down. Add some essential oils or bubble baths and put on some soft music. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it!
- At the risk of sounding tedious, you should also avoid afternoon naps that go beyond 15-20 minutes (1) and drinking alcohol too close to bedtime. Both of these activities can increase your likelihood of waking in the middle of the night (2).
Of course, if you think your disturbed sleeping patterns are a result of a more serious underlying problem, you should consult with your GP. All in all getting the good zzzzzz’s is worth some effort. There are lots of resources out there that you can access if you’d like more information. Try these websites – good luck and happy sleeping!