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Take these Steps to Sleep Better & Live Longer by Karen Weeks

Sleep. Get enough of it and you wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead. Don’t get enough and suddenly you’re at a higher risk of health conditions such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. That’s especially dangerous if you’re in your golden years and already worried about the effects that aging has on your body. Luckily, this doesn’t have to be a problem if you’re ready to make a few changes to your lifestyle that’ll send you off to dreamland without all the tossing and turning.

See Your Doctor

If you are suffering from a serious medical issue that’s causing your insomnia such as Alzheimer’s, detect this condition and others in their early stages. As a result, you will increase your chances of finding treatment that lessens their symptoms and helps you cope. Be sure to keep in touch with family about these issues through regular video calls or email and a senior-friendly tablet would come in handy.

Fix Your Diet

Your diet should be similar to what you would eat if trying to lose weight: heavy in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and dairy while light on sugars and processed foods. Also, it goes without saying that portion sizes should remain reasonable, especially for the evening meal to avoid indigestion before lying down to sleep. Dinner should be rich in tryptophan, an amino acid used in the synthesis of the sleep hormone melatonin, and you’ll find plenty of that in chicken and turkey.

Stay Active

An exercise routine helps to relieve stress and anxiety, which could be what’s keeping you awake at night to begin with, says the Sleep Doctor. In addition, physical activity expends energy so that your body feels tired and ready for rest at the end of the day. That not only helps you drift off more quickly when your head hits the pillow, but prolongs the amount of time you spend in you in the restorative state of deep sleep.

Get Mindful

Exercise isn’t the only way to rid yourself of stress, of course. According to Headspace, a website devoted to mental well-being, mindful meditation does the trick as well. It doesn’t eliminate worries from your life, but it does teach you how to react positively to unpleasant thoughts and feelings that enter your brain. Rather than becoming angry and frustrated, you accept these emotions with ease and let them pass, leaving you calm as you lie down to sleep.

Create a Sleep Routine

This is a series of steps that help you relax and get ready for bed in the evening. Your tryptophan-rich dinner and meditation session are parts of it, as is reading a book or another relaxing activity such as knitting. Accompany that with a soothing lavender or vanilla candle, and you’ll find yourself nodding off in no time. Remember to do everything at the same time, or close to it, every night to maintain a steady rhythm.

Invest in a Mattress

An old or shoddy one can cause back pain and keep you awake at night. Do a bit of research online so you know what you’re looking for and be careful of gimmicks as there’s no organization that certifies mattresses as “orthopedic” or “medically approved.” When in the shops, test the wares to ensure you get one that offers the level of support you’re looking for.

Remember that none of these measures are quick fixes. It may take a few weeks or more before you see the positive effects, but once you do, sweet dreams.

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