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Routines can help seniors' sleeping woes

September 24, 2009|By BOB POOR

Q: As I have gotten older, I notice that the quality of my sleep has decreased. I'm just not waking up as refreshed as I used to. Can you recommend a good source of help on this topic?

A: Sounds like you do not have a major sleep deprivation problem, which you should discuss with your doctor. Like most seniors, you do notice changes in bodily functions as you age.

Getting a good night's sleep can make a big difference in how you feel. The National Institutes of Health's Senior Health Web site (http://nih

seniorhealth.gov) includes the following suggestions:

o Follow a regular schedule. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps you stay in sync with your body's circadian clock, a 24-hour internal rhythm affected by sunlight.

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o Try not to nap too much during the day. You could be less sleepy at night.

o Try to exercise at regular times each day. Try to finish your workout at least three hours before bedtime.

o Try to get some natural light in the afternoon each day.

o Be careful about what you eat. If you like a snack before bed, a warm beverage and a few crackers might help.

o Don't drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes to help you sleep. Even small amounts of alcohol and nicotine can make it harder to stay asleep, not to speak of the hazard of falling asleep with a lighted cigarette.

o Create a safe and comfortable place to sleep. The room should be dark, well ventilated and as quiet as possible. Make sure there are locks on all doors and smoke alarms on each floor.

o Develop a bedtime routine. Do the same things each night to tell your body that it is time to wind down.

o If you are so tired during the day that you cannot function normally -- and if this lasts more than two or three weeks -- you should see your family doctor or a sleep disorder specialist.

o

A special notice for all seniors: Save the date of Monday, Oct. 19, to attend a second senior forum with the Washington County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly.

The Washington County League of Women Voters joins the Commission on Aging and the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association in sponsoring this event. Watch for the announcement of where and when the forum will be held.

Hagerstown resident Robert A. "Bob" Poor is a member of the Society of Senior Advisers and provides senior professional services for reverse mortgages and personal insurance. He also is a member of the Senior Referral Center of Hagerstown. Questions are welcomed at r.poor@myactv.net or by mail c/o The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, MD 21741, ATTN: Robert A. Poor column.

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