There’s no denying how important sleep is for physical, emotional and social health. This is especially true for seniors, as getting enough zzz’s may be the difference between tackling the day with the proper attitude or merely going through the motions. A full night’s sleep can help improve mood, joint health and even memory power.
THE IMPORTANCE OF A FULL NIGHT’S SLEEP
Sleep allows the body to recharge, giving both the mind and body the proper time to replenish and rest. Not only does this practice improve overall health, but it also may be key for improving cognition in older adults. A recent study conducted by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston finds that sleep patterns greatly impact adults’ cognitive and cardiovascular health in their later years.
According to the findings, adults who sleep less than five or more than nine hours per night are much more likely to have memory problems than those who sleep between six and eight hours. Additionally, those whose sleeping habits fluctuate more than two hours per day are more likely to suffer from similar cognitive deficits.
Elizabeth Devore, an instructor in medicine at the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH, explained in a press release that seniors should be aware of their sleeping habits, as sleep greatly influences health.
FOODS TO IMPROVE SLEEPING HABITS
Falling asleep is much easier for some than others. People may prefer a glass of warm milk before going to bed while others are lulled to sleep by the tones of their favourite tunes, but for those who don’t have a set routine in place, there are several options that may help them fall asleep at night. Diet is one of the most important factors for senior health, including those living in retirement communities. Thankfully, there is a wealth of food options that not only improve physical health, but help seniors fall asleep as well.
Choosing the right snack before bed is important, as some may help lull seniors to sleep while others can lead to disruptive sleeping patterns. Reader’s Digest recommends that people stick to small snacks, as large meals can actually produce a wave of energy, keeping people awake longer.
Walnuts and almonds, for example, are excellent choices, as they are chock-full of nutrients that produce serotonin and melatonin, both hormones that help people fall asleep.
Cereal is another great option, as seniors can benefit not only from the carbohydrates, which can cause the brain to produce higher levels of the sleep hormone tryptophan, but also from the calcium from the milk.
CRAFTING THE PERFECT SLEEPING ENVIRONMENT
What seniors place inside their bodies may be equally as important as the factors in a senior’s outside environment. Some people prefer noises while others cannot sleep without silence; regardless, crafting the ideal surroundings is key to getting a good night’s sleep. There are several steps seniors can follow when making their room in their retirement village more sleep-friendly.
Canadian Living magazine recommends a number of changes seniors can make to their surroundings that may be more conducive to sleep. The source notes that cleaning a room before going to bed can help clear both the space and the mind, making sleep come much easier. Additionally, investing in items to improve comfort, such as noise machines or comfortable sheets, can also dramatically help sleeping situations.
In a separate article from Canadian Living, the source chronicles a number of scents that can help improve the atmosphere. Smelling lavender before bed, for example, can lead to a deeper sleep. The source recommends that people drop a bit of the scent in a bubble bath or keep a lavender candle lit for thirty minutes before bed time. Other scents that may lead to better sleep include chamomile, jasmine and vanilla.