Written by on Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Most seniors know that getting a good night's sleep is an integral aspect of living a healthy retirement lifestyle. Sleep has a huge number of health benefits, from restoring a person's immune system to enhancing their brain functions.
Though seniors naturally sleep less than other adults, a recent study from Uppsala University in Sweden found that a lack of sleep could put senior men more at risk for developing dementia. The long-term study followed over 1,500 men for 40 years, as they aged from 50 to 90-years-old. The men gave reports about their sleep habits twice during the study. Those who reported sleep disturbances were found to have a 1.3 percent higher risk for developing dementia than those who had no sleep issues. The older the man reporting these disturbances, the more likely he would be to develop Alzheimer's or dementia.
The study confirms what most seniors already know: Good sleep is important. Seniors who live in active retirement communities can take these steps to sleep better and stay healthy:
Examine all medications
A common reason for sleep disturbances in seniors is that they're taking a medication that affects their ability to sleep or relax. If you're taking any medications, talk to your doctor or a community staff member about whether they could be affecting your sleep. If so, try to find an alternative medicine or dosage that allows you to sleep better while still working effectively.
People who are more sedentary tend to have difficulty falling or staying asleep since their body is generally at rest during the day. Make yourself get up and do at least one 30-minute activity each day, whether it's taking a walk, swimming or doing stretching exercises. You'll begin feeling better overall, reap dozens of other health benefits and find yourself sleeping better in no time.
The more you nap, the less likely you are to have an undisturbed night's rest. If you feel tired during the day, either wake yourself up by doing something active and fun, or take a very quick catnap. Before you nap, set an alarm for 30 minutes later, and try not to sleep for longer than 45 minutes.
Even though alcohol sometimes feels like it has a calming or tiring effect, it actually makes for a more restless sleep. Consider stopping drinking altogether or limit yourself to a small glass of wine per day.