Sleep for Seniors: Tackling Sleep Issues That Come With Age

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Problems sleeping can occur at any age. As some people get older, they can find that they begin to have trouble sleeping when they had no issues before. Many elderly people experience sleep problems, which can affect them and those helping to care for them too. Seniors struggling with insomnia and other sleep issues might end up with a prescription for medication to help them sleep. However, there are other solutions to explore for those who are reluctant to try medication straight away. Whether you’re an older person trying to sleep or you have a relative or patient who needs some help, try these tips.

The Importance of Sleep for Seniors

Sleep is important for anyone because it helps to keep your body and mind healthy. As you get older, it can start to become more important to help you avoid various health problems. Older adults are more likely to experience things like depression, memory problems, nighttime falls, diabetes, and other issues if they don’t get enough sleep. The effects of insufficient sleep can build up, taking a toll on you physically and mentally. You might feel like you can get by on just a few hours sleep, but most people need plenty of sleep as they get older.

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Understand How Sleep Changes As You Age

It’s important to think about how sleep habits can change as people get older. They can start to experience new things, perhaps getting into new habits even after decades doing the same things. Getting older can cause you to wake up more during the night because you’re no longer in a deep sleep as often. This is because your body produces lower levels of growth hormone and melatonin. So many people find that they turn into light sleepers as they age. Some people might also find that they feel like going to bed earlier and getting up earlier. They might also need to spend longer in bed or take naps during the day to get enough sleep.

Change Lifestyle Habits for a Better Sleep

Making lifestyle changes can be helpful if you or a senior you know is struggling to sleep. There can be various underlying issues that make it hard to get a good night’s sleep. Sometimes people may be unable to sleep because they are experiencing pain or discomfort. This is something you might need to speak to your doctor about to see if they can address it. Other problems might be less obvious. For example, being lonely or not engaging with others often enough can mean that the mind and body aren’t active enough. This might mean that a senior might not be tired or might find it hard to switch off at bedtime.

Assess Diet and Exercise

A lack of exercise or a poor diet can also make it hard to sleep at night. When an older person is finding it hard to get enough sleep, taking a look at their diet and exercise regime is a good first step. Exercising more can tire them out so that they feel ready for bed. Exercise doesn’t necessarily mean having to do anything rigorous. It can simply mean walking, even if it needs to be done with the aid of a walker or similar apparatus. Adjustments to diet could include avoiding caffeine and alcohol. Another tip is to deal with hunger before bed but avoid big meals.

Care in the Home

Many people need some care as they get older because of physical or mental problems, or sometimes both. It can be more difficult to deal with issues to relating to sleep when other health issues are present. For example, people with dementia might be more likely to get up during the night and perhaps try to wander. One thing that might help is care at home during the night. Overnight care from can provide extra support for someone who is not sleeping or has had other issues, such as nighttime falls. Some people might benefit from care at night even if they don’t need it during the day. Overnight care is also extremely helpful for family caregivers who need a break.

Better Sleep Habits and Environment

Another issue that can cause sleep problems is a bad sleeping environment, as well as poor sleep habits. You can create better conditions for sleeping to encourage healthier sleep. Firstly, a regular bedtime routine isn’t just good for children. Adults can benefit too, especially if they’re having problems sleeping. Soothing activities before bedtime are also useful, from having a bath to listening to relaxing music. There are also certain steps to take in the bedroom, such as keeping it cool but not cold, and making it dark by removing all artificial light too.

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Embrace Napping

Most older people are unlikely to be working during the day. While this can sometimes mean people struggle not to get bored, it also means you can nap whenever you want. Anyone who feels tired during the day might benefit from having a nap in the afternoon to top up their sleep. However, it is best to keep naps short. If they’re too long, it could make it more difficult to sleep at night. It’s also important to keep naps earlier in the afternoon or perhaps even late morning, rather than too close to bedtime.

Considering Stress

Many seniors may not work anymore, but they can still feel stressed about various things. Stress can make it difficult to sleep, so dealing with it is important. Some tips to reduce stress include doing calming activities or using relaxation techniques. Talking to unload mental burdens is also very helpful for people of all ages. Older people might benefit from speaking to a friend or family member, or perhaps even a counsellor or therapist. It’s also important not to get too stressed about not being able to sleep or get back to sleep. Find ways to deal with the issue instead of worrying about it.

Even though it can be harder for seniors to sleep, there are ways to deal with it. You can help out a loved one if they’re struggling to sleep with some of these steps.


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