Restful sleep makes days more productive, safer

Melissa Auricchio, the manager of Health First Sleep Centers, recommends that seniors sleep between seven and nine hours a night.

Many seniors are bothered by sleepless nights. Sleep experts offer reasons and helpful remedies for that tossing and turning into the wee morning hours.

Forty percent of the public, when older, has some sort of insomnia, according to Dr. David Bhola, a family medicine doctor on Merritt Island. Among the reasons are keeping an irregular schedule, an afternoon nap or taking medications that might affect sleep.

"Use the bedroom for only sleeping or intimacy," Bhola said. "Keep a regular routine at bedtime, make sure medications are taken properly and don’t use screens or cell phones late into the evening. Don’t read or watch television in the bedroom."

"A senior citizen needs to get between seven to nine hours of sleep per night," said Melissa Auricchio, the manager of Health First Sleep Centers. "Establish consistent sleep and wake schedules, even on weekends. Create a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as listening to music, reading or taking a hot bath."

To achieve that sleep, there are some suggestions.

"Do evening breathing exercises, or concentrate on relaxing every part of the body," Bhola said. "Go to bed when you are sleepy. But if you toss and turn, get out of bed and do something completely different. If you have racing thoughts when you go to bed, keep a diary and write down everything going on with your thinking. Or make a plan like notes for the next day."

If problems persist, check with a physician.

Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol or electronics and avoid large meals before bedtime, said Tim Carlen, a manager of respiratory care. Naps can interrupt your normal sleep routine.

Lack of sleep causes other problems.

"Sleep deprivation can lead to increased risk of hypertension and stroke, diabetes and obesity, atrial fibrillation and coronary artery disease arrhythmias and heart failure," Carlen noted.

"Short sleep duration is linked to drowsy driving, remembering new information, increase in depression and decreases the ability to pay attention and react to signals," Auricchio said.

"Four things to remember to sleep well — quiet place, dark room, 68 degrees ideal temperature and fresh air as in no allergens if you have allergies," Bhola said.