Everyone feels better after a good night’s sleep. According to the National Institute on Aging, seniors should get 7-9 hours of sleep every night, but many are slow to fall asleep and up multiple times throughout the night. If you or a loved one are dealing with sleep issues, it is important to understand what is happening and what actions you can take to remedy the situation before it has a negative impact on your health.

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How does sleep affect your health?
Harvard University studies indicate that insufficient sleep can contribute to medical conditions such as
diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity and can compromise the immune system – making it harder for the body to fend off illness. It can also impact memory including the ability to concentrate. Most experts agree that getting the right amount of sleep is as important to overall health as good nutrition and exercise. Getting a good night’s sleep is also key in providing the body with an opportunity to recover from the wear and tear of everyday life. Your body repairs damaged tissue, enhances muscle growth, and even regulates hormones and metabolism while sleeping.

Sleep patterns can change with age
According to the National Sleep Foundation, seniors tend to have a harder time falling asleep and more trouble staying asleep than when they were younger despite the fact that their sleep needs remain the same. Sometimes this difficulty falling asleep can be attributed to the side effects of certain medications, which is why it is important to tell your doctor if you notice a change in your sleep patterns. Also, as we age, the timing of our bodily functions can change. We may still get 7-8 hours of sleep but find that we go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier than we used to. These kinds of changes to the rhythm of the body can be disruptive to sleep, especially if they are dramatic in nature.

How can I sleep better?
Having a dark sleep environment that is not filled with artificial light (such as the television) gives your body the signal that it is time to sleep. Also – make sure you do not eat or drink in excess before going to bed, or you will likely be up in the middle of the night using the bathroom which is disruptive to deep sleep. Regular exercise will also help the body prepare for rest in the evening – as will getting into a nightly routine of reading for a few minutes before bed.

If you or a loved one are dealing with sleep-related issues and need some additional advice on how to help, Sweetwater would be honored to visit with you. Just visit contact us for more information.