If you were to ask a group of people what they would like to change about their busy schedules, chances are they will want more sleep.
The need for a good night’s rest doesn’t decrease as a person gets older, but it can often be more challenging to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night. As a person gets older, falling asleep can take longer and staying asleep can be more difficult.
Up to 40 percent of people experience trouble sleeping as they get older. From lifestyle changes to treatment options, here are six tips for improving sleep.
Exercising daily is beneficial to your health and will help you sleep better at night. But be careful with your exercise regimen. Don’t exercise within three or four hours of bedtime or it may contribute to sleep problems.
Get some sun
Sunlight can make a big difference in a person’s quality of sleep. Sun exposure helps regulate the sleep/wake cycle. Get as much time in the sun as possible, whether it is by spending time outdoors or just enjoying the sunlight indoors. Try to get at least 30 minutes of sun time each day to boost your sleep at night.
Create an atmosphere that promotes sleep
Make changes to your bedroom to make it more conducive to sleep. Darken the room as much as possible and keep it quiet and cool. Make sure your bed and pillows are comfortable for you. Perhaps the most important change that can be made to a bedroom is to keep activity out of the bed that shouldn’t be there. Don’t check emails on your phone or computer in bed. Watch television and read books in another room. Help your body prepare for sleep by making the room and bed a place where you only sleep.
Get into a routine
Go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time every day. Help your body get into a sleep rhythm by establishing a bedtime routine that promotes sleep. Take a warm bath, have a light snack or do some reading each night to wind down.
Take a nap – or don’t
When you aren’t getting enough rest at night, turning down a nap can be difficult. But long naps are counterproductive for night sleep. If you need a nap during the day, keep it to 20 or 30 minutes and take the nap in the early afternoon to minimize its effect on a good night’s rest.
See a doctor
Lifestyle and routine changes can have a significant effect on nighttime sleep, but health problems can be the culprit as well. Sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, congestive heart failure and other conditions can make it difficult to get adequate rest at night. Some medications can also keep a person up at night. Consult with your doctor to see if a health condition might be the culprit for your sleep problems. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe sleep aid medications, but these medications are best used in the short term.
Sleep problems can be common as a person gets older, but there are ways to address and improve nighttime sleep. Although medication may sometime be necessary to get adequate sleep, several lifestyle and routine changes can make a big difference to the quality of sleep at night.
This article was originally published by the Orange County Register
A version of this article was published by Good Day Orange County. It has been republished here with permission.