Our sleep is affected by health conditions, medications, the natural aging process, and stress. As such, it’s one of the things that are profoundly affected by the passing years. The body’s internal clock, which regulates our circadian rhythm, becomes slower and less functional.
This winter, getting enough sleep will be even more difficult for many, in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. Many of us might already find it difficult to shut our eyes without contemplating all those anxious thoughts that are tied to our current circumstances. But quality sleep is essential for staying healthy, so we all want to do everything in our power to get it. That’s why we’ve rounded up some effective tips that will help you get better sleep this winter.
Discover the Cause of Your Poor Sleep
As we mentioned, the natural aging process might lie beneath your sleep issues. Other problems can affect sleep quality, and very often, the problem needs to be treated from its root. Underlying medical issues could cause sleep disruptions, so you’ll want to consult your doctor to see if there is any medical solution you can apply.
Medications could also cause insomnia or irregular sleep patterns. In this case, also, you need to discuss the side effects with your physician and see if there is an alternative that could help you without causing sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep can be caused by stress as well, and a conversation with a therapist can be very helpful.
Establish a Bedtime Routine
Winter and aging combined affect our sleep habits. It is imperative to maintain a steady bedtime routine to cope with the drop in temperature and sleep issues. You can get better sleep in cold seasons by cozying up in your bed, taking a warm bath before bedtime, and having a cup of tea. These are the things you should do every night at the same time.
Maintaining a routine without fail will help you prepare your body and mind for bed. Consider practicing de-stress activities, such as deep breathing, yoga, or meditation before bedtime. Also, do your best to wake up at the same time each morning.
Create a Sleep-Inducing Environment
The bedroom should be an oasis of serenity. Supportive mattresses and pillows are important in every season. In winter, you have an additional problem to think of – dry air. The indoor heating tends to dry out the air (and your skin, too), which can cause coughing, snoring, and waking up in the middle of the night. This is a complication easily solved with a steamer or a humidifier. The ideal temperature for sleep remains the same – around 65°F (18.3°C).
Your Diet Affects Your Sleep
Have you ever tried falling asleep and staying asleep after eating a large piece of chocolate cake? It’s not easy.
The foods you consume during the day, especially the ones you take right before bedtime, will massively affect not just the quality of your sleep but also your ability to fall asleep at bedtime in the first place. Eating a balanced diet packed with fruits, grains, protein, and vegetables will definitely help in the long run. Of course, you can take a snack before going to bed, but instead of a piece of chocolate cake, eat a banana, kiwi, protein smoothie, yogurt, pumpkin seeds, or edamame (with just a bit of salt).
Be Active during the Day
Studies show that physical activity affects the sleep of older adults positively. Moreover, moderate-intensity workouts with the frequency of three to four times a week showed significant improvements in sleep patterns of the study participants.
Unfortunately, staying active during the winter is particularly difficult for older adults, with the bad weather making it challenging to go for walks. With the pandemic still being a concern, practicing pilates, yoga, or aerobics in a studio with an instructor is also nearly impossible. Still, there are some workouts seniors can do without leaving their home. These include wall push-ups, walking in place, hip rotations, planks, and more.
Sleep and the immune system are closely connected. Regular sleep can strengthen immunity, which is imperative in the time of the pandemic, as seniors are the most sensitive to the virus and its consequences. These tips should provide enough insight to understand and improve your sleep habits. Follow them, but follow your instincts as well, and make sure you get the recommended seven to eight hours of shut-eye.