​​​​​​Why Don't Seniors Sleep Well?

6 Steps for Better Sleep After 65

For many people, getting older means no longer sleeping like you once did. But as frustrating as poor sleep is, it's usually a solvable problem. Before you resign yourself to sleepless nights and fatigued days, take these steps to improve your sleep.

1. Assess Your Medications
A variety of medications can affect the duration and quality of your sleep. These include certain medications for high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, high cholesterol, arthritis, depression and allergies, among others. AARP explains how these medications contribute to insomnia and alternative treatments that may exist. If you suspect a medication is interfering with your ability to sleep, talk to your doctor about adjusting your treatment plan.

2. Improve Your Sleep Environment
Watching TV in bed feels like one of life's little pleasures, but in fact, it does more harm than good. When you use your bedroom for activities other than sleep and intimacy, your brain begins to associate your bedroom with wakefulness rather than rest. Keep electronics and other light-emitting devices out of the bedroom, and instead maintain a cool, dark environment that's primed for sleep.

3. Upgrade Your Bed
An uncomfortable mattress and pillow can lead to tossing and turning at night, not to mention an achy body come morning. With as much time as you spend in bed, it's worth it to invest in a comfortable mattress and pillow that relieves pressure on your body and keeps your spine in its natural alignment. Rather than being persuaded by gimmicks, shop for mattresses by testing models in person to find the bed that feels best on your body.

4. Get More Exercise
Exercise offers a multitude of benefits to older adults from improved mental health to decreased fall risk. One perk of an active lifestyle you may be unaware of is that it helps you sleep better. As CNN reports, adults who get at least 2.5 hours of exercise per week on a regular basis report sleeping better than their sedentary peers. You may want to avoid exercising immediately before bedtime if you find evening exercise disturbs your sleep.

5. Watch Your Diet
A sleep diet might sound like another diet fad, but what and how you eat does affect your sleep.

Eating a varied diet that includes adequate fiber but limits intake of sugar and saturated fat is associated with longer, more restful sleep. Additionally, keeping a regular eating schedule and avoiding large meals before bedtime may help you sleep better.

 Seniors should watch what they drink as well. Caffeine in the afternoon and evening affects sleep, as does alcohol before bedtime. For more restful nights, moderate alcohol and caffeine intake and stick to water before bed.

6. Consider Sleep Disorders

Sometimes poor sleep has nothing to do with your lifestyle and everything to do with your health. There are a number of sleep disorders that cause difficulty falling and staying asleep or disrupt your sleep so it's less restful. Common sleep disorders that older adults experience include sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and periodic limb movement disorder. Often, people have a sleep disorder and don't even realize it — they just know they're tired throughout the day and can't explain why.

 If you're experiencing poor sleep and lifestyle changes aren't helping, it's time to talk to your doctor about sleep disorders. Older adults will be relieved to learn that type I, II, III, and IV sleep tests and treatments including CPAP therapy can be covered by Medicare under certain conditions. Sleep problems that aren't covered under Medicare Part A and B may be covered through Medigap.

 Poor sleep doesn't just leave you tired throughout the day. When you're not sleeping well, every aspect of your health and well-being suffer. Instead of writing off sleep problems as a fact of aging, take action to improve your sleep and quality of life.


AARP explains - https://www.aarp.org/health/drugs-supplements/info-04-2013/medications-that-can-cause-insomnia.html primed for sleep - http://www.alaskasleep.com/blog/tips-creating-ideal-sleep-environmentreports, - https://www.cnn.com/2017/05/29/health /exercise-sleep-tips/index.html varied diet
  - https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/how-what-you-eat-affects-how-you-sleep-ncna805256 alcohol
 - https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/201801/alcohol-and-sleep-what-you-need-know 
sleep disorders - https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/sleep-disorders/what-are-sleep-disorders sleep apnea.  - https://www.prevention.com/health/a20482980/signs-of-sleep-apnea/ certain conditions.   - https://www.medicare.org/articles/medicare-info/medicare-coverage-sleeping-disorders.

Submitted by:Karen Weeks, Elderwellness.com, June 2018