Sleep problems may sometimes increase with age and poor sleep can lead to the overuse of sleep aids, sleepiness during the day, memory problems, and short attention span. Still there are many things that older people can do to get a good night’s sleep.

Just because the pattern of sleep changes, doesn’t always mean there is a problem. Sleep patterns change with age. Some people will need more sleep, while others will need less. In general, older adults require between seven and nine hours sleep a night.

Unfortunately, problems such as insomnia can get in the way. Older people do not sleep as deeply and so tend to be more easily awakened by noises or when their body shifts position, this is especially true when sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress. And so, older people may not get the sleep they need, even if they don’t have a particular sleep disorder.

The first step in determining if you or a loved one are getting enough sleep is to observe the waking hours. Are you or they alert and reasonably active in the morning? Is there a need to fall asleep in the middle of the day? Taking a nap isn’t bad. It’s okay to hit the mattress in the middle of the day, but falling asleep at inopportune times or excessive sleepiness can indicate a problem.

Many sleep problems can be overcome simply by going to sleep in the evening when you first become sleepy. Older people manufacture less melatonin, the hormone that assists sleep. Staying awake after sleepiness begins, can cause melatonin to wear off. You’re then no longer sleepy and will have a harder time falling asleep, as the body must wait for more melatonin to be manufactured.

Sleep schedules often change as we age. Generally, older people become sleepier at an earlier time in the evening and get up earlier in the morning. It may require some psychological adjustment to climb onto the mattress at a different time in the evening, especially if the person has been accustomed to a particular schedule for many years.

How older people can get a good night’s sleep

  1. Stay Active. One of the most important is to stay as active as possible during the day, consult your doctor with regard to developing an exercise program that’s right for you.
  2. Get some sun! Make sure you are getting enough daylight in order to reset your sleep cycle
  3. Lay off the caffeine. Be sure to limit your caffeine intake.
  4. Comfort. Having a good sleep environment is important, so sleep on a comfortable mattress.
  5. Adjust.  Listen to your body and adjust your sleep patterns to suit – this may involve going to bed and getting up earlier.

With a little work, there’s no reason to lose sleep when getting older.

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