Developing a sleep routine is essential to our overall health and wellbeing, especially our brain health. Toxins are flushed from our brains as we sleep and our body heals tissue. Sleep also helps to consolidate and strengthen memory. Evaluate your own sleep habits and consider the 10 tips below for ways you can improve your own slumber.
- Stick to a schedule and avoid long naps Get up at the same time every day. This can help to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm and better your long-term brain health.
- Prioritize your sleep and create a sleep hygiene routine You should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. While it can be tempting to stay up late, it is important to create a routine and prioritize your brain’s health.
- Wake up to early morning light and avoid daytime or long naps Expose your eyes to sunlight first thing in the morning to help set your body clock. We are wired to get up early and absorb the rising sun. You should also limit naps during the day to help promote better sleep during the night.
- Get moving Exercise is good for the brain, but regular physical activity also promotes good sleep. Movement throughout the day leads to a restful night’s sleep.
- Watch what you eat and drink Tune into your body and notice if certain foods or drinks impact your sleep. Try to avoid caffeine after lunch and eating and drinking three hours before bed to limit late night bathroom breaks. Also be mindful of alcohol intake as it can have a detrimental effect on the body's sleep cycles.
- Mind your medicines Some prescriptions and over the counter meds can impact sleep. Talk to your doctor to see if your medication is impacting your sleep. There might be alternatives or different times of day that are best to take them to improve your sleep.
- Cool, quiet and dark These are the ideal sleeping conditions. The best sleeping temperature is between 60 and 67 degrees. Sleep in the dark or wear an eye mask to block out extra light.
- Eliminate electronics The blue light from TV’s, phones, tablets, and laptops can stimulate alert centers in the brain which can keep us from sleeping. Make sure to power down electronics before you begin your bedtime routine.
- Establish bedtime rituals 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime, start to wind things down. Create a routine that signals to your brain that it’s time for bed. It could be a warm bath, soothing music, essential oils, or cozy nightclothes.
- Know the warning signs of poor sleep Sleep disorder symptoms include persistent trouble falling/staying asleep; frequent snoring; persistent daytime sleepiness; grinding your teeth; waking with a headache or aching jaws. If you experience any of these symptoms, you will want to consult your healthcare provider.
More information about Alzheimer’s and other dementias can be found in the care resources area of our website.