A recent National Poll on Healthy Aging has shown that about one-third of people over age 65 cannot sleep well at night and need to take something to help them sleep.
Poor sleep can contribute to many health conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Lack of long, deep sleep has been linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition, sleep pills can bring health risks and cause other health problems.
Side effects of over-the-counter sleep drugs include confusion, urinary retention, and constipation.
They may also increase the risk of dizziness and memory loss that can lead to falls, car accidents and more.
Preeti Malani, M.D., the poll director from the University of Michigan, suggests that older people can do eight things to sleep well at night.
Build a bedtime routine. You can use reading, relaxing music or a warm bath to tell your body and brain that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep.
Have a consistent sleep schedule for every day, even on weekends and when you’re traveling. It is important for you to sleep and get up at the same time every day.
No screen time in the bedroom. Research has sown that exposure to digital screen light can reduce your sleep hormone and make it hard to fall asleep.
Therefore, you need to keep your smartphone, tablets, TV, and laptop out of your bedroom.
Avoid having a nap in the late afternoon or evening. A nap before your sleep time may change your body clock and make it hard to sleep at night.
Don’t consume caffeine after 2.pm. Drinking beverage high in caffeine in the afternoon and evening can interfere with your sleep.
Don’t use alcohol to help sleep. If the effects of alcohol disappear in the middle of the night, you will find it hard to get back to sleep again.
Cut back on all liquids before your sleep. This is because a full bladder can wake you up in the night and disturb your long sleep.
Finally, talk to your doctor about the issue. A form of “talk therapy” can help people with serious sleep issues.
For example, you can get insomnia-related cognitive behavioral therapy from psychologists and clinical social workers trained to provide it.
The researcher also suggests that people should not take melatonin supplements too much.
The few available studies suggest the supplements may lengthen sleep by only 15 minutes and may cause grogginess the next day.
Moreover, current medical guidelines strongly warn against prescription sleep medicines for older people.
If you can take steps to improve your sleep, you can solve sleep problems and improve your health.
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