As we get older, our quality of sleep can change with increased incidents of wakefulness and waking early. If not addressed, lack of sleep dampens our mental ability and, in the case of people who are very elderly and unwell, increases the risk of falls.
So, what can we do to make sure that we get a better night’s sleep? In this quick guide we’ve brought together our tips to help you improve your sleep hygiene.
1. Keep a routine
Going to bed at, and getting up at, the same time every day helps our body to establish a good sleep routine.
2. Get outdoors
Natural daylight and fresh air not only improve overall wellbeing, they’re vital in helping us to make sure that we sleep well. If there are periods of time when you’re not able to leave the house, or if the weather in winter makes it difficult to get outdoors, a natural daylight bulb may help. Introducing plants into the home and opening your windows for a few hours each day will improve the levels of oxygen circulating.
3. Avoid drugs and alcohol
Sedating yourself to sleep doesn’t help your body to naturally prepare itself for rest. If you find you are relying on either, arrange an appointment with your GP.
Limiting your caffeine intake in the afternoon will also help to make sure your body is naturally coming to a restful state.
4. Keep screens out of the bedroom (or at least out of your bed)
Mobile phones and tablet devices emit a blue light that suppress your brains ability to create melatonin – the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle. The National Sleep Foundation recommends avoiding devices at least 30 minutes before you go to bed.
5. Write down your worries
If you find your brain is busy before sleep, then keeping a diary or notebook next to your bed can be useful. Use it to jot down what’s on your mind and then close it for the night. If negative thoughts are an issue, it can be helpful to write down three good things that have happened during the day or something that you are grateful for as a means to finishing your day on a positive note.
6. Get regular check ups
If you’re frequently waking in the night to use the toilet, experiencing night sweats or palpitations, it could be a sign of a health problem. Arrange to see your GP and don’t avoid routine blood pressure appointments.
7. Keep active
Regular exercise is directly linked to improved physical and mental health. Taking a daily walk or participating in a group exercise session regularly will provide you with benefits that extend to improved sleep quality.
8. Check your mattress
If you are being woken by general discomfort, or your mattress is over 10 years old, then it’s worth considering a replacement. If a new mattress is too expensive, then a mattress topper could prove a good compromise.
9. Find ways to unwind
To help bring your day to a natural calming close, think about what you could do prior to going to bed that will help you to unwind. This could be yoga stretches, reading, a warm bath or listening to relaxation music.
If you’d like further information on how to get a good night’s sleep, you may find the following resources useful:
Age UK: Advice on sleeping well and staying sharp
Alzheimer’s Society: Article discussing disrupted sleep
Dementia UK: Insight into sleep deprivation and dementia
NHS: Sleep and tiredness – how to get good sleep
At Helpd, we provide a dedicated online introductory service that puts you in control of care, so you can sleep more easily. To find out more, visit helpd.co.uk
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