Being older doesn’t mean you have to feel tired all the time. There are many things you can do to help you get a good night’s sleep, according to the National Institute on Aging. (The care companions at Home Care Assistance added a few tips of our own.)
- Follow a regular sleep schedule. Go to sleep and get up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Try to avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening, as it may keep you awake at night.
- Develop a bedtime routine. Take time to relax before bedtime each night. Some people watch television, read a book, listen to soothing music, or soak in a warm bath.
- Keep your bedroom dark, not too hot or too cold, and as quiet as possible.
- Have a comfortable mattress, a pillow you like, and enough blankets for the season.
- Exercise at regular times each day but not within 3 hours of your bedtime.
- Make an effort to get outside in the sunlight each day.
- Be careful about when and how much you eat. Large meals close to bedtime may keep you awake, but a light snack in the evening can help you get a good night’s sleep.
- Stay away from caffeine late in the day. Caffeine (found in coffee, tea, soda, and hot chocolate) can keep you awake.
- Drink fewer beverages in the evening. Waking up to go to the bathroom and turning on a bright light break up your sleep.
- Remember that alcohol won’t help you sleep. Even small amounts make it harder to stay asleep.
- Use your bedroom only for sleeping. After turning off the light, give yourself about 20 minutes to fall asleep. If you’re still awake and not drowsy, get out of bed. When you feel sleepy, go back to bed.
Try to set up a safe and restful place to sleep. Make sure you have smoke alarms on each floor. Lock the outside doors before going to bed, and keep in mind these other safety tips.
- Keep a telephone with emergency phone numbers by your bed.
- Have a good lamp within reach that turns on easily.
- Put a glass of water next to the bed so you don’t’ have to get up if you wake up thirsty.
- Use nightlights in the bathroom and hall.
- Don’t smoke, especially in bed.
- Remove area rugs so you won’t trip if you get out of bed in the middle of the night.
- Don’t fall asleep with a heating pad on; it may burn.
There are some tricks to help you fall asleep. You don’t have to count sheep, but you could try counting slowly to 100. Some people find that playing mental games makes them sleepy. For example, tell yourself it’s 5 minutes before you have to get up, and you’re just trying to get a few extra winks. Other people find that intentionally relaxing each of their body puts them to sleep.
If you feel tired and unable to participate in your normal activities for more than 2 or 3 weeks, you may have a sleep problem. Talk to your doctor about changes you can make to get a better night’s sleep.