Healthy Sleep Habits for a healthy life

Woman sleeping in bed with an alarm set and air mist diffuser on

Now that you no longer have to get up for that job, you may find your sleep patterns are getting disrupted. It seems counter-intuitive: Even though you’ve removed the 40-hours-a-week job, you may find your mind racing even more at night. Maybe aches and pains are causing problems or keeping you from restful sleep.

Whatever the reason, many folks over 65 have trouble sleeping, even more so after retirement. However, a lack of sleep can affect the immune system, making it harder for your body to fight illness. Sleep is important at any age, of course, but even more so for older people.

A lack of healthy sleeping can also exacerbate existing conditions. A National Sleep Foundation report stated that nearly 25 percent of older adults aged 65-84 suffer from four or more medical conditions. It also said that 80 percent of those people reported having issues with sleep during the night.

And although one may not cause the other, a lack of sleep combined with medical issues can lead to other problematic situations. An increased chance of diabetes, diminished strength and cardio health, even an acceleration of the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease are all possible.

Finding a Routine

When you were working, you may have had a goodnight routine. Maybe watch the 11 o’clock news before turning in and waking up seven hours later to get ready for work. Or maybe a shower and in bed by 9:30 p.m. Whatever it was, you stuck to it.

Now that you’re retired, you may be thinking there’s no “reason” to get up. This isn’t necessarily true. It’s still important to have an active lifestyle. And even though you don’t have a regular 9-to-5 anymore, a normal sleep cycle is vital to good health.

A regular sleep schedule will help ensure around 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Mixing it up can lead to irritability, potential memory problems, loss of focus, and other side effects. It doesn’t have to be the same routine you had, but there should be one. And give yourself 20 minutes to finally drift off.

Don’t let the bed bugs bite

Part of finding a good sleep schedule is making sure the bedroom is conducive to sleep. This could be as simple as making the bed every morning, so it looks nice and fresh when it’s time to go to sleep. Kind of like staying in a hotel: There’s nothing better than coming back from a day of activities and finding the bed has made.

This is just one step you can take to turn your bedroom into an oasis of sleep. Others include:

  • Turning off all devices – Although leaving the television on may help you get to sleep, the warm glow may also wake you up a few hours later. Part of getting a healthy night of sleep is making sure it’s uninterrupted. Also, leave your phone in another room or turn it off completely. If you need a little bit of noise, consider a white noise machine with a timer.
  • Room temperature – Some like to keep the fan running all year long, others prefer a quilt or two when it comes to sleeping. Set the temp to whatever makes you the most comfortable and leave it there. Just avoid extremes – it’s never good to wake up because your teeth are chattering or you’re drenched in sweat.
  • Keep foods and drinks to a minimum – Large meals or copious amounts of caffeine before bed will make it extremely difficult to fall asleep. Feel free to keep a glass of water on the bed stand if you’re feeling thirsty, but the less work your body has to do (digesting food for one) the better.
  • Keep Calm – Part of keeping an aging body healthy and fit is exercise, but not at the expense of a good night of sleep. Refrain from exercising two to three hours before bedtime. Even after an hour of working out, the body is still trying to “heal” from the exercise.

Address Medical Issues

There are times when your body may be working against you when it comes to getting good, uninterrupted sleep. Health conditions like sleep apnea actually wake you up hundreds of times a night! It can be a never-ending cycle – waking up earlier because you can’t sleep, feeling tired all day and napping (another no-no), and then not being able to fall asleep at night.

Having occasional trouble fall asleep over the short term while you adjust to a new schedule is fine. But if you find these issues increasing or lasting for months, consider seeking medical help. There are CPAP machines and even dental inserts that can alleviate the effects of sleep apnea.

Other conditions include restless leg syndrome, dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, menopause, and even some medications that can all have an effect on sleep. When talking to your doctor, ask about possible medical issues that could be causing you to lose sleep.

Getting enough good sleep is just one part of keeping your body healthy and fit. The proper diet, exercise, and even keeping your mind busy all work together holistically to keep you fit as a fiddle. And while you make the necessary moves to remain in good health, let Medicare Help Now help find the right Medicare insurance when you finally do need to see a doctor.

As an independent agency, we have access to more than 30 different carriers and 50 insurance plans. Trying to wade through all of the parts, enrollment periods, and prescription medicine plans is enough to keep anyone up all night. Put those worries to bed: Let our experienced insurance professionals find the right plan for you and your finances.

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