8 Tips on How To Improve Sleep in Seniors

Why does sleep become difficult as we age? According to MedlinePlus, as we get older, our sleep patterns tend to change. With this change, it’s often more challenging to fall asleep and remain asleep throughout the night. We tend to awaken more frequently during the night and to rise earlier in the morning, which can cause fatigue throughout the day. Additionally, as we age, we tend to spend less time in deep and dreamless sleep states. Some common problems and sleep disorders include: insomnia, restless leg syndrome, narcolepsy and sleep apnea. While treatable, when we’re deprived of sleep, we may experience states of confusion or mental changes, an effect that can be even more heightened in seniors. 


So how do we help our aging loved ones to reduce these symptoms or issues and to experience high quality sleep? 

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Act naturally - Try to avoid medications if at all possible; focus on natural ways to enhance your senior’s ability to sleep and sleep well.

  • Stick to a regular bedtime - If your aging loved one is beginning and ending his or her routine at a different time each day, then it will likely inevitably disrupt his or her ability to rest at the appropriate times. By suggesting and adhering to a regular bedtime routine, your loved one’s body will become used to it, which will enable the process to flow more smoothly. 

  • Avoid stimulants 3-4 hours before bed - Encourage your loved one to drink water or decaffeinated beverages in the hours leading up to dreamland. Try to avoid beverages like alcohol, coffee and soda, and even foods like chocolate as well as vices like tobacco. 

  • Avoid stimulation before bed - Sound similar to the previous suggestion? Avoiding violent or anxiety-provoking programming like crime dramas or even the news may help your loved one to achieve a more restful state of mind. Try to cut ties with any electronic devices if your aging loved one has joined the times and feeds an iPad or any other type of device addiction. 

  • Exercise in moderation - Encouraging your senior to perform light exercises in the afternoon will also help to teach the body when it should be in active versus rest mode.

  • Teach your body to relax - If your loved one can get into the habit of performing breathing exercises, meditation or any other mindfulness and relaxation technique before bed, then the transition from awake to asleep will happen more smoothly. 

  • No naps - Is your loved one prone to that glorious afternoon napping delight? If so, try to break that habit by filling the time with some type of engaging and productive activity so that the mind remains stimulated throughout the day. Limiting sleep to night-time will enable your loved one to establish the routine he or she craves. 

  • Focus on comfortable body alignment for elderly bodies - Work with your loved one’s doctor to ensure that he or she is able to find a neutral sleeping position. If your loved one has a specific injury, check out these 11 tips to improve senior sleep by reducing pain and discomfort from DailyCaring.

What tips have you found to be useful when assisting your aging loved one to achieve a good night’s sleep?

CareZare is a FREE app for family caregivers to help them manage their care team and ensure the highest level of care for their loved one.