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Easy ways for seniors to improve sleep

If you’re a senior who has trouble sleeping at night, it’s probably taking a toll on your day-to-day living.

Maybe you’ve tried to compensate with naps or even sleeping pills, but there are things seniors can do right now to get more sleep. There are measures you can take that are natural and relatively easy that can quickly help your body get the rest it needs.

1. Drink Cherry Juice:  There are quite a few foods and beverages that have been proven to have positive effects on the ability to sleep. One of these is cherry juice – specifically tart cherry juice. You’ll know what kind to get because the bottle will say “tart cherry juice.” Depending on where you do your shopping, you might have to venture to the organic/health food section to find this rather than in the regular juice aisle, which tends to feature an alarming number of “juices” masquerading as things that they really aren’t (always read the labels). Drinking an eight-ounce serving of tart cherry juice in the morning and another before bed has been shown to decrease insomnia in multiple studies. The fruit contains melatonin, which is well known to help you sleep. Drink up.

2. Cut Out The Coffee: Drinking tart cherry juice may help you with cutting out the coffee if you’re a regular coffee drinker. Ultimately, you want to limit your caffeine intake as much as possible if you’re having trouble sleeping, and coffee is obviously a tremendous source of that trouble. It can be hard to shake a coffee habit, and it might be difficult for a day or two, but if you can make it that far, it gets much easier to live comfortably without relying on the beverage to get through the day.

3. Walk More:  If you’re not getting enough sleep, there’s a good chance that you’re not getting enough exercise. Physical activity has been proven to help people sleep better. You can do any kind of exercise you like, but as a senior, you may not be up for all the sports and strenuous activity you could once participate in. Walking is a good way to get in your exercise, and if you do it first thing in the morning, it will help you keep a routine and ensure that you’re getting some activity in each day.

4. Get More Sunlight: If you’re going for daily walks, that can help in this department, but regardless of your choice of exercise, getting more sunlight in the daytime can have a direct effect on your ability to sleep at night. It has to do largely with your sleep-wake cycle, which tells your body when it’s time to be awake and when it’s time to be asleep. It’s best to get more sunlight closer to when you get up in the morning, if possible.
5. Read Instead of Watch: Many people turn to the television for their pre-bedtime relaxation, and, while there’s nothing wrong with watching some TV from time to time, doing it right before bed can keep you from being able to get to sleep when you’re done. The blue light emitted from the screen can be disruptive. Instead of unwinding in front of the tube, pick up a book, and you’ll likely find that sleep comes much easier.

Not all of these tips may seem especially appealing to you (and if we’re talking about giving up coffee, believe me, I completely understand), but getting enough sleep is important to both your physical and mental health, and it’s not something that should be taken lightly. These are easy, no-nonsense tips that you can put into place immediately and greatly improve your ability to get to sleep quickly.

Jim Vogel is the co-creator of ElderAction.org, which was launched after he and his wife became caregivers for their parents. With the site, he hopes to spread awareness about senior health and wellness and also to provide valuable resources for caregivers on other senior-related topics. When he isn’t working on the site, Jim enjoys fishing and reading, in addition to spending time with his family.

Gloria Mazure

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Boomer & Senior Resources is dedicated to empowering area seniors, their caregivers and healthcare professionals to obtain the knowledge and resources needed to provide quality care for an aging relative, friend or patient.

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