Tips for a good night’s sleep

Following these tips and establishing a routine can be the key to sleeping better.

A bed pushed up against a blue wall with a lamp and glass of water on the night stand.

As we age, we still need the same amount of sleep as we did when we were working adults: seven to nine hours. Unfortunately, due to pain, worry or prescription medicine keeping us awake, many of us do not get enough sleep. If this is the case, then you may find that the next day is very frustrating because you become irritable, forgetful, depressed and more likely to suffer from falls or accidents. Whether you have problems falling asleep or staying asleep, the following tips from the National Institute on Health will help you have good “sleep hygiene”:

  • Sleep schedule: Go to bed and get up the same time each day, even on weekends.
  • Eating: Close to the time you go to bed, you do not want food laying in your stomach. Try to avoid eating large meals right before going to sleep.
  • Technology: The light from televisions, computers, cell phones and tables make it difficult to fall asleep. Turn off electric devices at least 30 minutes before going to bed.
  • Temperature: Do not make your bedroom too warm or too cold.
  • Avoid caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant and may keep you awake.
  • Exercise: Exercise daily around the same time every day, but not within three hours of your bedtime.
  • Daytime Napping: During the late afternoon try not to nap because it can keep you awake at night.
  • Bed: Only use your bed for sleep and sex.
  • Routine: Develop a bedtime routine. By taking time to relax such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, meditating or listening to music before going to bed.

Another component to restful sleep is a comfortable and safe place to doze off. Check your smoke alarms every six months to assure they are working properly. Always have a list of emergency numbers by your bed along with a phone. Remove area rugs so you do not trip when getting up. And have a glass of water by your bed in case you get thirsty in the night, as well as a lamp that is within your reach.

If you continue to have problems getting a good night’s sleep after following these tips and developing healthy sleeping habits, you may want to talk to your health care provider. MSU Extension also offers Sleep Education for Everyone Program (SLEEP), an interactive program that consists of six half-hour sessions that goes over guidelines that will help you develop healthy sleeping habits. For more information about the SLEEP series, please contact Dr. Robin Tucker, lead developer and researcher of this curriculum.

For more tips on health and nutrition, visit Michigan State University Extension's Food & Health website.

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