How to Improve Your Sleep (Without Medication)

Physical, mental, and social changes that naturally develop with age can make it hard to get the rest you need. Everything from medications to failing eyesight can interfere with your body’s sleep-wake cycle. Despite these challenges, there are many effective ways to improve your sleep quality without adding another medication to your list.



Start with Healthy Sleep Habits


One of the best places to start is your sleep habits. While these habits and behaviors may not fix all of your sleep problems, they give your mind and body ample opportunity for fall and stay asleep.



  • Consistent Bed and Wake-Up Time: Your body loves consistency. By going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, you let your body adjust to your preferred schedule. Over time, the body will automatically start releasing sleep hormones at the appropriate time.
  • Bedtime Routine: A regular pattern of activities before bed serves an important purpose. One – a familiar routine helps the brain recognize when to release sleep hormones. Two – it’s gives you an opportunity to relieve stress and tension before bed. A routine does not need to be complicated or long but should include activities that leave you feeling calm and relaxed.
  • Avoid Screens Before Bed: Televisions and other electronic devices can give off a bright blue light that suppresses sleep hormones. Try shutting them off two to three hours before bed to keep your body on schedule.


If after working on your sleep habits you find you’re still struggling, you might need to consult a physician to look for an underlying sleep disorder. Sometimes better sleep comes through something as simple as an anti-snoring device, mouthguard, or therapeutic pillow.



When You Need More Than Healthy Habits


While many people will notice an improvement in their sleep when they use good sleep habits, others may find they need more of an intervention. A few to consider:



  • Mindfulness Meditation: Meditation acts as a stress management tool. Many older adults experience stress due to the loss of a loved one, changes in living situation, or financial concerns. To get the rest you need, you have to be able to put stress aside for a time, and that’s where mindfulness meditation comes in. This type of meditation focuses on the present while allowing thoughts of the past and future to pass through without lingering. Over time, this “present” focus changes the structure of the brain by strengthening the connection between the emotional center of the brain and the logic/reasoning center. The overall effect is less stress and, oftentimes, better sleep.
  • Bright Light Therapy: Natural light helps set and trigger the sleep-wake cycle. As eyes age, less light becomes available to stimulate the brain, and the sleep cycle may become irregular. Light therapy requires direct daily exposure to light bulbs that simulate natural sunlight. Bright light therapy maximizes light exposure in the morning to help reset the sleep-wake cycle.
  • Sleep Restriction: This method uses changes in sleep timing to increase tiredness at night. You would first stay up later than normal, wake up at a regular time, but then stay awake all day, no naps. The next day you follow the same pattern. The theory is that as you get more tired, it gets easier to fall and stay asleep. This method has rules like, if you’re awake, you don’t stay in bed longer than 20 minutes and you don’t get in bed until you’re tired. It’s a process to retrain your body to sleep.



A combination of good sleep habits and interventions based on your unique sleep challenges can help you get the rest you need. With better sleep, you’ll be physically and mentally at your best and ready to live the life you want.



Alarm App Gives Caregivers Easier Wake Up Options

Waking up can be hard to do, especially if sleeping through the night proves to be difficult. With the MyAlarmClock App, senior caregivers can set specific alarms for the morning and use sleep timers to help them fall asleep at night. 

Every part of the alarm clock in the MyAlarmClock app can be customized to meet the needs of the user. The app offers several different clock display options, ranging from digital displays in several colors to a mock antique clock face. 


To set an alarm, caregivers can go to the Alarm List and enter the time they would like to wake up. The Repeat option allows users to select which day(s) of the week they would like the alarm to go off. If caregivers see one client only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, they can set a specific, repeating alarm just for those days. 

The alarm has a few different options for sounds. Users can choose between various in-app noises, such as Bells, Mellow or Electro, for the alarm noise. Or, they can elect to play music from their iTunes by picking a specific song or shuffling through the entire library. 

Caregivers should take care to ensure the volume level is where they'd like it on this screen. Users also have the option to have the noise fade in for a less jarring wake up. When the alarm goes off in the morning, caregivers can tap their hand over their phone to activate the "Snooze" button aspect. Or, they can set the snooze settings ahead of time to automatically have the alarm play for 30 seconds and then snooze for a set amount of time, i.e. five minutes. 

The Sleep Timer area of the app offers assistance to fall asleep at night. Users can select either White Noise or songs from their iTunes library to listen to as they drift off. The timer allows caregivers to set exactly how long the noise should play as they fall asleep. 

Other app functions include a flashlight that can be activated by double tapping on the screen and a weather area. The weather summary automatically shows in the upper left corner of the home screen, but users can also click on it for a more detailed view. This way, caregivers can know how to dress for the day before even leaving bed. 

The My Alarm Clock app is available for Apple and Android platforms. 

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discovers additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko


Sleep Better Using Natural Sleep Cycle App

Waking up in the morning after sleeping the whole night and feeling tired anyways feels like you've been cheated by nature somehow. Understanding your natural sleep cycles along with the proper amount of sleep you should get in a night helps senior caregivers feel more refreshed and prepared for the day. The Sleep Time app provides users with the ability to set an alarm to wake them up during the lightest part of their sleep cycle. 

When caregivers first create an account, the Sleep Time app tracks their sleeping patterns for the first few nights and establishes when the user is in their deepest sleep. The app uses movement detected by the phone to help determine this so users need to keep their phone on their mattress. The alarm portion of the app is set for a half an hour window. The app determines when you are in your lightest sleep cycle within that half an hour and wakes you up gradually then. 

A main page displays the current time and the alarm options for users to choose from. Users indicate if they've had caffeine, ate late, worked out, had a stressful day, consumed alcohol or are not sleeping in their bed before setting their alarm so the app can make informed conclusions about their sleep cycle. 

To help users who live in noisy environments fall asleep peacefully at night, the Soundscapes feature provides noise such as Gentle Waves for a user selected period of time. Additional Soundscape options are available in the paid version of the app. Users also may adjust volume level and settings such as whether or not to start a Soundscape when the alarm is set. 

Getting enough sleep contributes to stress relief as well as mental and physical wellness. For caregivers in particular, taking time to unwind and get full rest every night plays a big part in maintaining a stressful lifestyle. If you're having issues sleeping through the night or waking up tired regularly, try to avoid caffeine and other stimulants too close to bedtime. 

The Sleep Time App is available for Apple and Android platforms. 

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

Improve Sleep Using Personalized Suggestions from App

Getting to sleep and sleeping through the entire night to wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day can be tougher than it sounds. Especially for senior caregivers who work stressful jobs, sleep is important to refresh and recharge for the next day. Whether you have trouble turning off your continuously running thoughts to fall asleep, often wake up in the middle of the night or wake up feeling just as tired as when you fell asleep, the Sleepio app can help. Sleepio asks specific questions to analyze your personal sleep quality and suggests changes for improvement. 

New users are greeted by a cartoon professor upon downloading and opening the new app. He explains overall purpose of the app then leads the user through questions to diagnose what specific problems you experience, i.e. getting to sleep, staying asleep, etc. The app also looks for information on how frequently your sleep is disrupted and how long you've experienced the same issues, then it assigns a sleep score to determine your overall quality of sleep based on your responses. Users who have an outside program such as FitBit that tracks their sleep for them can also import the data into Sleepio for a more personalized recommendation. 

Once users have gone through about ten minutes of intro questions and set up, the program finalization is done. There are two options for users to choose from- during the day, or a sleep session. The beginning of the sleep program describes how sleep is affected by emotions and stress, and then the guided personal suggestions begin. The app talks users through negative thoughts, unhealthy behaviors, daily schedule and lifestyle changes over a six week program. 

The Sleepio app is free for Apple products and offers a seven day trial for new users. After that, to continue the program users must pay a subscription fee. 

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

SleepGenius App Uses Guided Program for Quality Night of Sleep: Caregiverlist Senior Care App Review

For senior caregivers and their senior clients, catching a full night of rest can be difficult. Caregiver stress can cause difficulty falling asleep and affect the sleep cycle, so caregivers may wake up after a night of restless sleep and feel just as tired as when they went to bed. The SleepGenius app uses music scientifically created to soothe the brain into its natural sleep cycles and features an alarm clock specifically designed to ease the user out of sleep instead of jar them awake. 

Falling asleep to music or the calming sounds of nature that some other apps offer can seem soothing, but the sounds in the SleepGenius app are scientifically proven to evoke certain reactions from the user's brain to set them into their natural sleep patterns. The research done for the app originally served to help develop ways for astronauts to fall asleep on trips to space. 

The basic layout of the app makes it easy to navigate. The home screen features two options- sleep and revive cycle alarm. On the sleep screen, users can choose from a 90 or 180 minute program to help them fall asleep and into their first sleep cycles, or the continuous program which plays through the entire night. The paid version of the app also features a power nap option. The revive cycle alarm helps ease the user out of sleep instead of simply playing a loud noise to abruptly wake the user. 

Another section of the app offers tips for a night of quality sleep. It recommends using the same program night after night so that the user's brain falls into a pattern and consistently gets a good night of sleep. Quality sleep helps relieve some caregiver stress and helps make sure caregivers are ready to face the day fully rested. 

 

The SleepGenius app is available for free for Apple and Android platforms.

Senior caregivers, let us know your feedback on this app and keep us posted if you discover additional apps that assist with caregiving duties and help relieve caregiver stress. You may also refer-a-friend to a senior caregiving job and win prizes weekly and monthly on Caregiverlist. 

-Paige Krzysko

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