Catching some Z’s: 5 tips for sleeping well as you age

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You might have noticed Mr. Sandman getting stingier with the dreams each year.  As we age, so do our sleep patterns, so it’s not uncommon for seniors to have a hard time falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping at the right times. But never fear, if Mr. Sandman refuses to bring you a dream, you can still be a do-it-yourselfer. Here are some tips to help you sleep soundly:

1) Same old, same old
Keeping a consistent sleep schedule is crucial to falling asleep and staying asleep. This means going to bed around the same time each night, not sleeping in on the weekends, and avoiding afternoon naps. Having a sleep routine also includes coaxing your body into relaxation each evening, so try to find what helps you unwind, like reading or taking a warm bath, and make that a regular part of your night.

2) Here comes the sun
Your mother was right…again. Playing outside is good for you. Getting outside for at least one to two hours during the day helps our bodies fall asleep at night. Why? Because sunlight increases our bodies’ production of melatonin, which regulates our sleep-wake cycles, so slather on the sun screen and get out there!

3) Less is more
When it comes to eating anywhere near bedtime, keeping it light is key. Experts recommend refraining from eating large meals at least three hours before bedtime. Light snacks, on the other hand, like some crackers or yogurt, may actually help you sleep, so don’t be afraid to have a little nibble.

4) You’ve got to move it, move it
Exercising has been clinically proven to help people sleep soundly through the night. Aim for at least 30 minutes of elevated physical activity each day, but just like with meal times, timing is key. Be sure to exercise at least four hours before bedtime. Any less, and you run the risk of not being able to relax in time for lights out.

5) Beat it, Siri
If you’re having a hard time sleeping at night, you may want to make sure your bedroom is electronics-free. The power of suggestion is hard for our bodies to overcome, so if you’re used to reading your iPad or watching TV before bed, you might be doing yourself a disservice. Instead, try removing anything that glows from your bedroom, including overly bright alarm clocks, to help keep it cool and dark each night.

Helping a senior? If care at home is not working well, it could be time for a transition to senior living. Find a Milestone community near you to get started.

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