11 Tips for the Best Sleep Ever

By Marlo Sollitto, AgingCare.com contributing editor

Sometimes sleep and caregiving don’t seem to mix. With a packed schedule, being pulled in a million different directions by elderly parents, kids, jobs and all of the other things that constantly demand your attention, who has time to sleep? And when you do find the time, you toss and turn, your mind races and you lie awake. Does this sound familiar?

Experts say many people unknowingly establish “bad sleep habits” as part of their daily routine…and some of these practices could be keeping sleep away. A lot of things can come between you and a good night’s sleep. You can, however, start establishing better habits so you can consistently get quality sleep.

1. Find your sleep number
First, figure out how many hours of sleep a night will make you feel rested in the morning. You know you’re getting enough sleep if you don’t feel sleepy during the day. Most adults need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night.

(5 Steps to a Better Night’s Sleep)

2. Don’t try to make it up
If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you can’t “make it up” by sleeping late on the weekends, for instance. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Sleeping longer on certain nights or frequent napping will only inhibit your ability to get a good night’s rest the following night. By trying to make up sleep, you are sabotaging your chances of consistently getting a good night’s sleep.

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11 Tips for the Best Sleep Ever originally appeared on AgingCare.com

3. Get on a schedule…and stick to it
Staying up later on the weekends is equally as damaging as trying to make up sleep on the weekends. Our bodies need a schedule…a consistent routine. Try to go to bed and get up at about the same time every day, allowing for the amount of rest you calculated, even on weekends. If your bedtime is 10 p.m. during the week, stick to that same time on the weekends.

4. Get your parent on a schedule…and stick to it
Just like your body needs a routine, so does your elderly parent’s. Set a schedule that you can stay close to every day. We set a routine and schedule for our kids as they were growing up, so try to do the same for elders. For kids and elders, a routine is comforting, predictable and encourages feelings of safety and relaxation. Make breakfast at about the same time every day. Schedule dinner, bath time, a relaxing pre-bed activity and bedtime for the same time every day.

5. Don’t misuse your bed
Use your bed for two purposes only: sleep and sex. If you continually use the bed for activities that are not conducive to sleep, like reading, watching television or eating, you may be tempted to pick up a book or reach for the remote when you should be settling down for sleep.

6. Turn off your mind
Worrying and constant stress are often the culprit of a sleepless night. Sometimes, your thoughts race and it seems impossible to “turn off your mind” long enough to fall asleep. Relaxation techniques, practiced on a regular basis, can help. Get in the habit of relaxing before you head to bed. Some techniques to try: a hot bath, gentle music, meditation or prayer.

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11 Tips for the Best Sleep Ever originally appeared on AgingCare.com

7. Create a comfortable environment
Being comfortable is a key to good sleep. Light, interruptions and sound can interfere with slumber. Keep your bedroom dark during sleeping hours (room darkening curtains work wonder.) Reduce noise levels as much as possible. If traffic or noisy neighbors are a problem, to cancel out distracting and jarring sounds, try a bedtime alarm that has “white noise’ settings: waves, rain, bird sounds or whatever background noise you find soothing. Sound Machines allow you to ease into sleep with white noise. Keep your room at a temperature that’s not too hot, and not too cold. Get a comfortable mattress and bedding. (Soundproofing for a Better Night’s Sleep)

8. Avoid caffeine
Coffee, soft drinks, tea and anything with caffeine should be avoided from the late afternoon on through bedtime. Caffeine may be a great energy booster for you during the day, but in the evening, it can keep you awake or make your sleep restless.

9. Cut out alcohol and nicotine
A glass of wine may make you sleepy and help you get to sleep faster, but alcohol often wakes you up after a only a couple of hours of sleep. The same goes for smoking. Though smokers often feel like it calms them down, nicotine is a stimulant.

10. Don’t eat or drink before bedtime
Our bodies use drinks and food as sources of energy, so consuming them when you should be winding down for the night can interrupt sleep. In particular, spicy foods, tomato products and high-sugar snacks are known to cause sleep problems.

11. Exercise earlier
Exercise is crucial for good health, but trying to squeeze in a workout once the kids and parent is in bed makes it more difficult to sleep. Physical activity that raises your heart rate gives us rejuvenation and extra energy, which is great during the day, but not so good when bedtime approaches. Exercising too close to bedtime can cause difficulties falling asleep.

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11 Tips for the Best Sleep Ever originally appeared on AgingCare.com

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Rudolf Affolter
Past Member 4 years ago

A more physical way is once you are in bed, tense to bursting point your right arm, and then let it relax, and feel it becoming warm. Repeat with your other limbs in turn. Then all at once. Then push out and countract your abdomen in turn, 4 or 5 times, allowing the same tension and relaxation. Do the same with your neck and face. Finally altogether, and feel the complete sense of relaxation. I was taught these techniques by a Doctor, a psychiatrist when I was suffering deep depression and inability to sleep, even if exhausted. Always have in mind whilst performing these techniques that you are becoming more relaxed and sleepier mentally as well as physically. It worked for me.

Rudolf Affolter
Past Member 4 years ago

I would suggest listening to some gentle classical music, such as part of Beethoven's Violin Concerto or the Sanctus from Faure's Requiem.

Karen Langer
Karen L.4 years ago

Good basic tips, but I always find a little reading helps me to settle and unwind.

Debbie L.
Debbie Lim4 years ago

Thanks for the tips!

KrassiAWAY B.
Krasimira B.4 years ago

Noted with interest.

Basim Nawaz


Lynn C.
Lynn C.4 years ago

Roxana C. thank you for the green star. I would venture to guess that you have some experience with caretaking to appreciate this.

herlen osuna
herlen Osuna4 years ago

wow thanks alot, i usually have a lot of problems when it comes down to sleeping, hopefully this will help me.

Allan Yorkowitz
.4 years ago

"Just Turn off Your Mind" - sounds simple. This has been one one of the biggest problems in people who cannot sleep. Anxiety, stress, daily problems pray on our minds.
For people who have overwhelming anxieties, and stress, most find release in sleep.

sandra m.
Past Member 4 years ago

I can't just lay down and stay asleep...I can't sleep in the same position for long--constantly turning.For some reason,I have to turn because I get so I can't breathe laying in one position.-Doesn't matter the bed.It's the way it's been for years--surprizingly,I do get enough sleep then but when my mind won't shut off....That's another deal.