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03/03/2016 12:34 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Sleep Tips for Seniors

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There's something about sweet slumber that can't be replicated by anything else. Sleep is good for your body. It's good for your mind. And according to some research, sleeping through the night on a regular basis just might be good for your love life.

Unfortunately, quality shut-eye can be tough to achieve -- especially for older adults.

According to the National Institutes of Health, many seniors aren't getting the sleep they need. Many (13 percent of men over 65 and 36 percent of women in that age group) find it hard to fall asleep in the first place. And once they do, a lot of older adults discover that they don't sleep as soundly or as deeply as they used to.

You're up to use the bathroom. You've got aches and pains that keep you uncomfortably awake for long periods of time. You're left staring at the ceiling, trying to remember some of the sleeping tips you've heard over the years, waiting for the rest of the world to wake up so you can begin your day.

An inability to sleep can be not only exhausting, but also dangerous to your health.
A lack of sleep has been linked to everything from accidents to reduced cognitive capabilities to serious health problems including heart disease, strokes and diabetes. Sleep deprivation can also make you crabby.

Yes, getting enough shut-eye is important. So important that the National Sleep Foundation has declared next week (March 6- 13th) Sleep Awareness Week to help raise awareness about the many health benefits of sleep and its role in boosting safety and productivity.

With all that in mind, here are four sleeping tips to help you get more (and better) sleep each and every night:

Get Relaxed
Let's face it, life can get a little overwhelming from time to time. At the end of the day, it can be difficult to let go of the cares and concerns occupying your mind and just decompress.

If you find that it takes you entirely too long to fall asleep--or that you often awaken in the middle of the night--try taking a hot bath before going to bed. When you get out of the tub, your body temperature will drop, which will in turn make you feel tired.

You should also avoid that after-dinner nightcap if you're having difficulty staying asleep. Sure, a little nip before you call it a night might make you feel a more relaxed in the moment, but it can also make it tougher to stay asleep. Once the short-term effects of the alcohol wear off, you may find yourself lying in bed, wide awake. Quite a sobering scenario for the sleep deprived.

Go Outside and Get Active
It might surprise you, but one of the most effective sleeping tips is to get outside and get active. If you exercise at regular times every day, you're much likelier to be more tired (and ready for bed) at night. Just make sure that you're not exercising within three hours of your bedtime, otherwise your body (and mind) might be too pumped up to effectively hit the hay.

Any kind of workout is a good, but if you can get outside and do something active, you'll be doing double duty toward improving your slumber. That's because soaking up some sun each day lets your body know when it's time to be awake-- and when it isn't. So go ahead, get outside for your daily exercise. It just might put you to sleep.

Stay Ahead of the Pain
Studies have shown that between 60 and 90 percent of all people living with chronic pain also suffer from sleep disruptions. But the truth is, even minor pain can have a big impact on the quality of your sleep.

If pain is keeping you from sleeping well, consider taking preventive medicines before you try to fall asleep. A doctor can determine what type of medicine or remedy is needed and can help you learn how and when to take it so you don't wake up in excruciating pain every night. But once you figure out what you need, it can make all the difference in the world.

Create a Comfortable Space
Of all the sleep tips, this may be the most important. After all, a couch is no place to sleep on a regular basis. Neither is an easy chair. To get an amazing night's slumber (truly amazing), you need to create a comfortable space that's ideal for achieving deep sleep.

Start by blocking out all the noise that may keep you up at night. This includes dogs barking, people talking loudly and even the television. Replace them all with the soothing white noise of a fan or air purifier, or try using earplugs to block everything out.

Next, make darkness your friend. Black out any light sources in your bedroom and hide the alarm clock. Then, lower the temperature on the thermostat; people tend to sleep better in a cool environment.