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Why Can’t I Sleep?

Aging and lifestyle could play a part in the inability to sleep as fully or as deeply as we did when we were younger. There are close to 50 million Americans who say they cannot fall, or stay, asleep so you are not alone.

As a caregiver or as someone who is aging, it’s important to get a “good night’s sleep”. There are ways to help get a better, more restful sleep and here are a few you can try:

  1. Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep. Keep the electronics out of the bedroom. Even if you love to fall asleep reading a book, read a paperback, don’t use an e-reader. The light and light waves from these stimulate the brain and make it harder to fall asleep. Don’t fall asleep with the television or radio on as the changes in light and sound can disrupt your sleep patterns. If you need noise to fall asleep consider using a sound machine or running a fan for “white noise.” Make sure the bedroom is uncluttered and that it is cool. A cool bedroom will enhance your quality of sleep as will a room that is decorated in relaxing tones and one that is neat and tidy.
  2. If you’re overweight this can lead to sleep problems because it may make it harder to breathe and if you snore you may be waking up several times a night. Many people who are overweight also suffer sleep apnea and this can rob you of deep sleep. Being more active during the day, watching your caloric intake and losing weight is a great way to help combat sleep apnea. If you’re exercising, make certain you do it earlier in the day because getting a work out before bedtime will make you more awake, but an early in the day workout will likely help you sleep better.
  3. Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether any of the medications you’re on could be leading to poor sleeping patterns. Adjusting your medication schedule may be an ideal way to “fix” a sleep problem.
  4. If you’re stressed or anxious sleep may elude you. Combat that by taking a warm bath. Adding essential oils to the water may also calm you – lavender is a calm-inducing scent. Take a bath an hour prior to bedtime to fully reap the benefits. If you aren’t a fan of taking a bath, a warm shower works as well.
  5. Resist the urge to snack right before bedtime. Snacking means that your belly will be working to digest your foods and that can keep you awake. The type of food you eat could also lead to heartburn and that will keep you awake as well.

Take some time today to give your nighttime rituals some thought and see if there are changes you could make to assure that when you go to sleep, that you stay asleep.