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Tips for more restful sleep as you age

By Karen Weeks

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep problems tend to increase as we get older. Fortunately, simple lifestyle changes can help you get better, more restful sleep when you need it the most.

What you eat matters

There are various health reasons to make sure you eat right as you age. But a healthy diet will also promote better sleep.

“Eating healthy and allowing the body to absorb proper nutrients provides the brain with the chemical environment that it needs to produce the neurotransmitters that it needs to maintain adequate sleep,” a sleep medicine doctor recently told NBC News. A healthy diet is one high in fruits and vegetables, low on processed food, low on fatty red meats, low on sugar, and with a moderate amount of healthy whole grains mixed in.

When you eat also matters

Research studies have concluded that what you eat matters, but maybe not as much as when you eat it. For example, eating late at night can cause heartburn and other sleep-disturbing conditions. It can also mess with your metabolism.

Get some exercise

Exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality and can also help you lose weight, which can help with sleep conditions such as sleep apnea. A simple pedometer or fitness tracker can help you keep track of your physical activities.

Know if you have an actual sleep condition

In addition to lifestyle factors, there many medical conditions that interfere with your sleep. These include periodic limb movement disorder, restless leg syndrome and various ‘parasomnia’ conditions.

Don’t be afraid to seek help and talk to your doctor about sleep concerns. Medicare can help cover the costs of sleep studies, medication, and even CPAP machines for better breathing. Extended Medicare coverage can do even more.

Guest writer Karen Weeks created as a resource for seniors who wish to keep their minds, bodies, and spirits well.