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How to get a better night’s sleep

Wednesday, 02 September 2020

The benefits of a good quality sleep are endless, and it is absolutely vital in maintaining good health and brain function. When we sleep, our brain engages in a number of activities that aid with recharging our entire being, and therefore when we don’t get sufficient sleep, it can have a negative impact on our overall health.

The basic health benefits of getting enough sleep include:

  • Improved immunity and therefore less chance of getting sick
  • Lowered risk of serious health problems like diabetes and heart disease
  • Reduced stress and improved overall mood
  • Increased alertness and ability to think clearly
  • Better memory and attention span
  • Regulated appetite and assistance with maintaining a healthy weight
  • Unfortunately, as we get older, there is a notable decrease in our body’s level of melatonin, the hormone that governs our sleeping patterns within our bodies. This means seniors are more likely to be woken up by health complaints or minor disturbances, and often struggle with falling asleep at the desired time.

    While we can’t change the natural decrease of melatonin that our body experiences with age, there are things we can do to get a better night’s sleep.

    Engage in some physical activity throughout the day.

    Exercise can contribute to a more sound and restful sleep, as it increases the time spent in deep sleep, the most physically restorative sleep phase. Whether it’s bike riding, dancing, golfing, walking, yoga, water aerobics or light weights, try and spend at least 30 minutes each day engaging in physical activity.

    Ensure you’re getting sunlight exposure throughout the day.

    Bright sunlight helps to regulate melatonin and your sleep-wake cycles. Whether it’s having your morning coffee outside, playing lawn bowls or going for a long walk, try to get at least two hours of sunlight per day.

    Reduce mental stress as much as possible.

    Sometimes stress and anxiety built up during the day can contribute to trouble falling asleep. If you are struggling with being kept awake at night by your thoughts, there are a few things you can try to calm your mind.

  • Read a book before bed that keeps your mind focused on something else. A lot of people find reading puts them to sleep!
  • Listen to calming music or download a relaxation app. There are tonnes of apps like ‘Calm’ that offer guided meditations and sleep stories.
  • Avoid using your phone or reading the news before bed if you feel stressed out by current world events.
  • Develop a routine.

    Developing a routine can be very beneficial in supporting a healthy sleep cycle. Avoid using your bed for work or anything your brain needs to be alert and switched on for. That way, when you get into bed, your body will recognise it’s sleeping time. Aim to implement a sleep schedule and go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Irregular sleeping patterns can negatively impact the quality of sleep you get!

    Avoid alcohol or caffeine before bed and try a cup of chamomile or peppermint tea instead.

    We spend a third of our lifespan sleeping, and it is a crucial factor in maintaining good health and wellbeing. If you are regularly experiencing difficulty sleeping, it is important to consult your healthcare professional.

    To find out more about Oak Tree Retirement Villages, call 1300 367 155.