An older woman wearing glasses sits on a striped sofa.

Taking care of yourself

In addition to living a healthy lifestyle, it's also really important to make sure you take extra care of yourself as you get older.

Regular health checks

As we age, the likelihood of having illnesses or health conditions increases. As such, you'll need to be that little bit more aware. Both prevention and early intervention are vital. 

Make sure you have regular visits with your:

  • GP;
  • Dentist;
  • Optician; and
  • Hearing test provider.

Taking medication regularly

If you have been prescribed medication by your doctor, or you take other regular medication such as vitamins and minerals, you'll need to make sure that these are taken regularly and as indicated.

It is best to get into the habit of taking your medication at set times each day. You may find that setting a reminder or alarm on your phone is useful. Or you may find that medication management tools, such as medical alarms and pill boxes, can help.

Getting a good night's sleep

Having restful sleep is key to your emotional and physical wellbeing. In order for your body and mind to be well rested, it is optimal to get eight hours of sleep every night. Many experts recommend that the best time to sleep is between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am. Finally, if you're taking medication, you may find that it makes you sleep too much or too little. Again, check with your doctor to find out if your medication could be disrupting your sleep.

It's vital to make sure that your sleep is both relaxing and rejuvenating. To get started, you'll need to stick to an evening routine that helps you wind down before you head to bed.  

Here are our top tips for having a good restful sleep: 

1. Exercise regularly. Exercise is great for overall wellbeing, but when it comes to helping you get to sleep, regular exercise plays a vital role. If you are active five to six hours before bedtime, this raises your body's core temperature. When your temperature returns to normal a few hours later, it tells your body that it's time to sleep. 

2. Have a light dinner. If you can, make dinner the lightest meal of the day. There is certainly truth in the old adage, "Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dine like a pauper".

3. Go for a leisurely walk or do yoga relaxation exercises or gentle stretches. Taking some light, relaxing exercise helps to prepare you for sleep. Doing stimulating exercise, such as playing sports or spending an hour in the gym, does not.

4. After 8 pm, do activities that relax, rather than stimulate, your mind. Listen to relaxing music, meditate, read inspirational books—anything that helps to settle your mind and body. 

5. Keep a journal. If your mind is very active, you may find that keeping a night time journal helps. You may find it useful to write down your thoughts and concerns. Writing your thoughts down may stop you from playing them over in your mind when you lie down to sleep.

6. Take a hot bath an hour to half an hour before bedtime. You can use essential oils or bath salts to aid relaxation. If you can, keep the lights low and soak for 10 to 15 minutes. You may also find that listening to relaxing music helps.

7. Cut down on caffeine and go herbal before bed. If you enjoy caffeinated drinks, such as tea or coffee, see if you can cut back on these throughout the day—especially in the evenings.

About 15 minutes before bedtime, drink a cup of warm herbal tea. 

There are many different bedtime teas available from supermarkets and health food stores that you can try. You may prefer a simple chamomile or peppermint tea. Try it and see. What matters is that your tea is herbal and does not contain caffeine. If you are taking medication, some herbs, such as Valerian and St Johns Wort, may not be suitable. It is best to check with your doctor. 

8. Avoid drinking alcohol at night. Although alcohol may make you feel drowsy, it actually makes for a restless, rather than a restful, sleep. If you're not sleeping well, it's best to avoid alcohol entirely, particularly in the evenings. 

9. Make sure your bed is set up for sleep. Do you watch TV or use technology in bed? This does not aid restful sleep. These activities are best kept out of the bedroom. 

Make sure that your bedroom is dark, quiet and cool, and your bed is comfortable. Having the right kind of mattress makes a big difference.

10. Get into bed and relax. You may find that following the tips we've provided thus far help you to get to sleep easily. You may also find some meditation or relaxation techniques work for you.

  • Relaxing your body. When in bed, find a comfortable position, lie still and close your eyes. Focus on how your body feels and become aware of the different sensations. If you notice any tension in your body, focus your mind on relaxing that area. You may want to just feel the sensation of your breath, as you breathe the intention to relax in and out of your body. 
  • Following your breath. You may simply prefer to watch your breath. You can begin by taking three long, slow comfortable breaths. Breathe in deeply, following the rhythm of your breath and then breathe out slowly, making your exhale longer than your inhale. Then just relax and follow the slow and easy rhythm of your breath until you fall asleep.

Check out the Sleepio website for more helpful articles and tips on improving your sleep.

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