We know sleep is important, but it doesn’t always come easy. It’s easy to get lost in thought, tossing and turning the night away. It’s no wonder that 50 percent of seniors suffer from insomnia.

If you’re in that group or just want to sleep better, here are a few changes you can make that will help you get some shut-eye.

Before Bedtime

The first step to a better sleep is to change your habits. Check with your doctor to see if a medicine or illness is making it tough to sleep. You can also talk to a professional if you show signs of depression, since depression in seniors is a top cause of insomnia.

Once your body gets used to a sleep schedule, it will be easier to fall asleep!

Next, set a sleep schedule. That means waking up and going to sleep at a regular time. Once your body gets used to this, it will be easier to sleep. Taking naps during the day will also make it harder to sleep at night.

The next step is to get your body to sleep. Exercising three hours before bed tires your body out. Don’t exercise closer to bed, because this can wake you back up. Relaxing shortly before bed signals to your body that bedtime is near.

Finally, take sleep aid medication as a last resort and only at the suggestion of your physician. Many of these can be habit forming.

In the Bedroom

Once your habits are sleep-friendly, it’s time to get your room sleep ready. Make the room dark, quiet, and cool. This gets the room to the perfect atmosphere for sleeping.

To get your room to this atmosphere, there’s a few steps you can take. Clear the room of bright lights or screens, including your smart phone or television screen. That type of light can wake you up and get your mind into thinking mode.

Generally, 60° is the best temperature for sleeping.

Next, noise-canceling curtains are a good solution if you live in a noisy neighborhood. Finally, find the temperature that works best for you. Test several out, but if you’re slightly chilly (roughly 60°), you’re in the right zone.

Time for a Bedtime Snack?

Changing aspects of your diet can help you sleep as well. For example, eating too much before bed or eating spicy or greasy foods can cause indigestion and make sleeping hard. A glass of warm milk, though, does help you feel tired. See, Mom did know a thing or two!

You may want to rethink some traditional sleep aids as well. A night cap may make you feel tired, but studies show that alcohol causes sleep to be less restful. Cutting out alcohol and tea before bed will go a long way toward helping you sleep better.

Finally, a small snack of sleep-promoting foods before bed can help be a big help getting to sleep.

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Getting to sleep is a struggle for millions of Americans. Following these strategies, you can ensure that you aren’t among them tonight. Sweet dreams!

Further Reading

The Huffington Post — Sleep Tips for Seniors
The Shop & Enroll Blog — Early to Bed, Early to Rise: The Benefits of Genuine Sleep
National Institute on Aging — A Good Night’s Sleep