May is known as the Better Sleep Month

May 25, 2021

Better Sleep Month

The month of May offers us many new things - spring flowers and baby birds, the start of something new like a graduation or a marriage.  May also is known as the Better Sleep Month according to the Better Sleep Council. The goal of the Council is to offer consumers insight into the connection between sleep and its impact on our everyday life. 

Getting better sleep is hard even when the recommendations from trusted resources remain consistent – turn off electronics, set a consistent bedtime, use meditation as a bedtime ritual to quiet the body. The best way to get better sleep is to commit to a plan by writing down a sleep goal – important things are planned and sleep definitely is important.  

Start with the amount of sleep that is needed. How much sleep is enough? The Centers for Disease Control indicate adults 65 and older need a solid 7-8 hours of sleep each night. The 2021 Philips Global Sleep Study, uncovered on average, adults get 6.9 hours of sleep on a week night and 7.7 on the weekend. 

Seniors, Safety and Waking Up from Sleep

Planning your sleep environment helps to set safety practices. These practices support safely waking up from sleep and is similar to general home safety tips. Minimize rugs in the area to prevent a fall, have a phone next to the bed for an easy way to call for help, have a lamp that is easy to reach, and a glass of water to prevent the need to get up and go to the kitchen. These points are designed to make it easy for seniors to play it safe, to minimize the chance of a fall and to be independent on their terms. 

Seniors and Sleeping

As people age, the number of individuals who struggle with a sleep related disorder is also expected to grow. Common reasons for interrupted sleep in seniors includes: 

Pain – general aches, arthritis
Frequent urination – changes to the urinary tract
Insomnia – difficulty falling or staying asleep
Sleep apnea - short pauses in breathing
Restless Leg Syndrome - pins and needle feeling in legs at rest
REM Sleep Behavior Disorder – muscles move to act on dreams

How do we trick our brains into a better sleep?  Follow the basic building blocks of better sleep habits:

•Sleep Rituals
•One consistent bed time 7 days a week
•Take a warm bath or shower
•Limit eating large meals, caffeine, alcohol
•Wind down with a non-electronic device
•Limit the "blue light"
•Keep electronics out of the bedroom
•Pick a time to turn off electronics
•Pick a mantra to calm the mind
•Repeat a prayer
•Visualize a location that provides a calm feeling
•Bedroom environment
•Cool room temperature
•Dark or low lights
•Comfortable bed

Other actions that may help with better sleep is to avoid long naps, to set an exercise schedule that is more than 3 hours prior to your bedtime and plenty of exposure to the daylight because it helps regulate the body’s circadian clock. 

If lack of sleep continues to cause concern, seek a medical professional to uncover any health related concerns or a sleep disorder.  For more information on sleeping, the click on the National Institute on Aging offers more tips for better sleep.    

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