May is Better Sleep Month. It is dedicated to educating people about the importance of sleep to physical and mental health. How you feel during the day can depend on the quality of sleep you received the night before. Getting a good night’s sleep can help the mind and body recover from events of the day. Everyone has a different amount of sleep that is needed. The recommendation by sleep experts is seven to eight hours each night.
The following are some tips on getting a good night’s sleep:
· Avoid caffeine (found in coffee, tea, soda, hot chocolate) and alcohol near bedtime. They can interfere with sleep quality.
· Make a bedtime routine by taking time to relax before bed. Some people like to watch television, read a book, take a bath or listen to soothing music.
· Keep your room cool.
· Have a comfortable mattress that allows you to stretch and turn back and forth.
· Experiment with pillows and blankets. Consider egg crate or foam toppers.
· Use ear plugs.
· Turn on a fan or other “white noise” to help you relax.
· Go to bed the same time every night.
· Get up the same time every day, including weekends.
· Don’t exercise within three hours of your bedtime. It can keep you from falling asleep.
· Make sure your room is dark.
· Get out in the sunlight each day.
· Be careful with naps. Quick naps are good for recharging, but if you sleep too long, insomnia can be the result. Limit naps to no more than thirty minutes and try not to nap after dinner.
· Use your mind by practicing a distraction technique such as counting backwards, making plans for the weekend, or counting sheep. Sometimes distraction can help you relax enough to fall asleep again.
· Avoid big meals late in the evening that may keep you awake as your body digests.
· Watch liquids in the evening to avoid frequent bathroom breaks at night.
· If you take diuretics (water pills) before bed, check with your health care clinician about taking these in the morning to avoid being up to the bathroom.
Insomnia is the most common sleep problem that occurs in adults age sixty and older. People who have insomnia have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep during the night. Waking up at night and having difficulty falling back asleep can also be a sign of anxiety or depression. If sleep problems continue, you may need to talk with your health care clinician. But sometimes experimenting to find your solution to good sleep is all it takes. Good luck!