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Senior Women Who Snooze Soundly Age Healthy

Elderly woman sitting on her bed.
Don’t take your worries to bed. Bedtime is a time to relax, not to hash out the stresses of the day.

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A big key to a restful night and a healthy lifestyle is maintaining a consistent sleep routine that includes few or very short daytime naps and avoiding caffeine at night. Nighttime support and companionship also could help.

Q. The older I get, the more trouble I have sleeping and, since my husband died after 53 years of marriage, it’s gotten worse. I find I don’t feel as good during the day as a result, even though I take long naps.

Cutting down on your napping during the day and increasing your exercise are ways that may help. Here are other tips from sleep experts:

  • Establish a routine sleep schedule.
  • Avoid utilizing bed for activities other than sleep or intimacy.
  • Avoid substances that disturb your sleep, like alcohol or caffeine.
  • If you must nap, limit the time to less than one hour and no later than 3 p.m.
  • Stick to rituals that help you relax each night before bed. This can include such things as a warm bath, a light snack or a few minutes of reading.
  • Don’t take your worries to bed. Bedtime is a time to relax, not to hash out the stresses of the day.
  • If you can’t fall asleep, leave your bedroom and engage in a quiet activity. Return to bed only when you are tired.
  • Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and a little cool.

Getting the adequate amount of sleep is vital to healthy aging, according to a study of more than 2,000 women from the University of California at San Diego. In fact, the best predictors of this successful aging were less daytime napping and fewer complaints of sleep maintenance insomnia. Sleep maintenance insomnia is waking up early and not being able to fall back to sleep.

It would be a good idea to talk to your doctor to make sure that there is no physical reason you are having problems at night. If he or she suggests more exercise, why not join a walking club? It could be motivation to get out and about.

If a little extra companionship would be of help, contact your local Home Instead® office. The company hires CAREGiversSM to go into the homes of seniors to help them with their at-home care needs. CAREGivers are available 24-7, including nights, to help put seniors’ minds at ease.

Last revised: December 28, 2011

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