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Getting a good night’s sleep, at any age, is key to a healthy life. However, as we age, getting enough shuteye can be a serious problem — a problem that can contribute to an array of health conditions from dementia to depression. Insufficient sleep can lead to serious health problems, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight problems, and breast cancer in women.

It’s a myth that adults need less sleep as they age.  We know that sleep needs change over time.  Children and adolescents require more. Adults and senior adults require the same – seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

Unfortunately, limited sleep duration, lack of sleep quality, sleep disorders and more can all lead to cognitive issues particularly for seniors.  Typically, older individuals sleep less deeply and wake up more often throughout the night and this can have a powerful impact upon brain health. The good news is that seniors, however, can change their behavior to improve their quality and duration of sleep.

It is important to note that the foundation of all health is a nutrient-rich diet. Without necessary vitamins, antioxidants, enzymes, healthy fats and protein, the body is challenged to produce the necessary hormones and more to facilitate optimal sleep. Additionally, targeted supplementation with common nutrients such as vitamin D3 and magnesium, known to be common deficiencies with seniors, due to aging and medication use.

Here are tips to help optimize sleep and ultimately, cognitive health for seniors:

  • Maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Get sunlight each day. Sunlight helps set your body clock.
  • Get moving: Regular physical activity promotes good sleep; it can also help you lose weight.
  • Avoid caffeine after 2pm. Caffeine in the later hours has a negative effect on sleep.
  • Avoid drinking liquids 3 hours before bedtime, otherwise, multiple trips to the bathroom.
  • Practice deep breathing each day. Deep breathing for all ages helps mindfulness which helps improve sleep and fights insomnia.
  • Take a warm bath and wear socks if your feet get chilly at night.
  • Address body aches such as sciatica or joint pain with your doctor.
  • Ensure the room you sleep in is dark – bat cave dark.
  • Stop using electronic devices that emit blue light that interferes with sound sleep - 3 hours before bed.
  • Older adults tend to take medications and the combination of drugs, as well as their side-effects, can impair sleep.
  • Social activities that encourages family and/or friends can keep activity level up and prepare the body for a good night’s sleep.
  • Eat more carbohydrates at night time.
  • Take advantage of targeted supplementation, with your doctors approval to help facilitate quality sleep.

Creating a healthy living environment is crucial for a good night’s sleep, and forming healthy sleeping habits.  At Regency Park Senior Living, residents rest easy knowing they are in a safe a warm environment where care is available 24/7.  When we feel rested our mood is better, so let’s put sleep at the top of our list for a healthy lifestyle.

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