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The Importance of Sleep for Seniors

We often hear about how important diet and exercise is to maintain a healthy lifestyle well into our golden years. But what about sleep? What impact does our sleep habits have on our overall health? Today’s blog will explore the benefits of healthy sleeping habits for older adults and how to ensure you have optimal sleeping habits. 

The importance of Sleep Includes: 

  1. Emotional Health – When we are well rested, our bodies have healthier responses to stress and hormone levels (cortisol, serotonin, etc). We are able to handle what life throws our way with a healthy “can-do” attitude. When we don’t get enough sleep, we tend to have more dramatic responses to life events that present higher levels of stress and anxiety. These higher levels ultimately weaken our immune systems and make us more susceptible to chronic illness and diseases. 
  2. Poor Sleep & Dementia – In recent years, medical studies have revealed a connection between sleeping habits and cognitive decline associated with Dementia. One study in particular (findings can be found here), reveals that trouble falling to sleep, poor sleep quality or long sleep duration can be risk factors for this cognitive decline. Ultimately, healthy sleep is key to maintaining overall brain health with age and may play a role in Almzheimer’s prevention. 
  3. Lessen Your Fall Risk – With inadequate sleeps comes the inability to concentrate fully, slower reaction time and ultimately the increased likelihood to fall. Having healthy sleep habits will allow you to be more alert and lessen your fall risk. 

Now that we know the importance of sleep, how can I go about building healthy sleep habits? Easy! Below are a few recommendations to help you or the senior in your life get the zzzz’s that they need. Please know though, you should always consult your healthcare provider if sleep problems persist or have been a problem for sometime. 

Ways to Build Healthy Sleep Habits: 

  1. Create a Calming Environment – Make sure to turn off electronic devices such as TV or computer at least an hour before going to bed. Try reading a book or making a cozy cup of tea (caffeine free) to signal your body it’s time to wind down for the day. 
  2. No Sweets Before Bed – Since sugar can act as a stimulant, try to avoid sweets at least two hours before going to bed. Make sure to eat a well-balanced dinner and if still hungry after, have a small snack that is low sugar. 
  3. Establish a Bedtime Routine – Going to sleep the same time each night helps your body know when it’s time to wind down each night. It may take a week or so for your body to adjust, but keep at it, it will be worth it in the long run!
  4. Avoid Daytime Sleep – Try to avoid taking naps during the day. This will increase your chances of having more energy at night and ultimately throw off any healthy sleep routine you are trying to establish. 

Here at our community, we consistently strive for our residents to establish a healthy sleep routine as we understand it’s importance to an overall healthy lifestyle and quality of life! Here’s to happy sleep moving forward!

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