Lisa Conway – FLORIDA TODAY
Q: What can I do to really get a good night’s sleep?
A: A good night’s sleep is everything! Quality sleep contributes to physical health, cognitive function, and emotional balance. If you struggle with falling (or staying) asleep, check the items below to see if your bedtime routine might need some adjusting.
Consistent Sleep Schedule: Set a regular bedtime and wake-up time, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s internal clock and improves the quality of your sleep over time.
Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Develop a calming pre-sleep routine to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down. This could include activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing relaxation exercises.
Optimal Sleep Environment: Make your bedroom conducive to sleep. Keep the room dark, quiet, and cool. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows.
Light Matters: Natural light during the day (especially in the morning) reinforces your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle. Conversely, the blue light emitted by screens (and other electronics) can interfere with your body’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Reduce screen time at least an hour before bed.
Diet: Think twice (or three times) before consuming large meals, alcohol or stimulants like caffeine, energy drinks or nicotine close to bedtime. All can disrupt your sleep.
Physical Activity: Regular exercise in the daytime translates to better sleep at night! But if your workout is in the evening, make sure it concludes at least 90 minutes before bedtime.
Stress Management: High-stress levels can make it difficult to relax and fall asleep. Reduce your stress with techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or mindfulness.
Limit Naps: When naps go too long and too late in the day, it’s harder to fall asleep at night–which can kick off a vicious cycle of lost sleep.
Offload Pesky Thoughts: If your brain refuses to let go of thoughts and ideas at night, put a notepad beside your bed to jot down any concerns or tasks for the next day, allowing your mind to rest.
Seek Help: Sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea may require specialized treatment. If you consistently struggle with sleep despite adopting healthy sleep habits, it’s time to consult a healthcare professional.
Tailor the tips above to establish a sleep routine that works for you. Why? Along with diet and exercise, sleep is considered one of the three pillars of health. You’ll improve your brain performance, mood and overall well-being when you prioritize your sleep.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to askOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging. Lisa Conway is a Registered Nurse, Certified Dementia Practitioner and a Certified Care Manager for Senior Partner Care Services, Viera. Ms. Conway hosts a monthly seminar, ‘Senior Health Friday with Nurse Lisa.’