A lot of common sense is involved in getting that right amount of good night’s sleep.
“As one ages, a normal part of aging is your sleep is not as good,” said Dr. Kelly Dunn, a geriatric psychiatrist in Melbourne who works with sleep patients. “As you age, normally your sleep becomes more broken. People at that age tend to have more pain that wakes them up at night or urinating at night. Restless leg or sleep apnea are things that occur more frequently as you age and interrupt your sleep.
“The real importance of getting a good night’s sleep is not the number of hours or that you are up at night, but we know how it affects the rest of your body. Not sleeping well affects your blood pressure and (contributes to) heart disease and autoimmune diseases like lupus. It causes a lack of balance of body hormones that contribute to obesity and diabetes.”
“Sleep boosts the immune system, and without sleep the body is weaker and susceptible to disease,” said Melissa Auricchio, the manager at Health First Sleep Centers. “A senior citizen needs to get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. 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.
“A lot of people fall into the practice when they retire of developing a free-floating bed routine — late in night to bed and late morning rise,” Dunn said. “Seniors need consistent bedtime and awakening time. Limit computers, cell phones, iPads, because the blue light interrupts sleep. Avoid alcohol. No caffeine after 12 noon.”
Getting regular exercise helps with sleep.
“It is good to be involved in some kind of exercise,” Auricchio said. “But doing exercises close to bed can cause seniors to not be able to go to sleep.”
“It is a lot of common sense. Unfortunately, in this society we have grown to look for a quick and easy answer: Is there a pill I can take to fix this problem,” Dunn said. “Unfortunately, it takes consistent work to either achieve or maintain good sleep.”