Sleep Tips for Seniors

In this sleep tips for seniors post, we offer pointers that follow up our Sleep Challenges of Seniors podcast episode where we we explored a basic concern for many senior citizens…getting a good night of sleep! A recent survey of sleep research reported that as many as 50% of older adults have difficulties getting to sleep and sleeping through the night. It’s well-documented that the effects of insomnia can be detrimental to older people’s physical and mental health.

Here are a few links to tips that might help you get a good night of sleep:

    • Insomnia in the Elderly: A Review:  This excellent article in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine reviews the research on the sleep challenges of seniors. It’s a serious problem, but there are tools to help older people who are prone to insomnia.

    • Insomnia:  This Mayo Clinic article is an excellent starting point for your sleep research. Scroll down to the “Lifestyle and home remedies” section for some solid, practical advice for getting a good night’s sleep. Some of the tips include:
      • Stick to a sleep schedule. Keep your bedtime and wake time consistent from day to day, including on weekends.
      • Stay active. Regular activity helps promote a good night’s sleep. Schedule exercise at least a few hours before bedtime and avoid stimulating activities before bedtime.
      • Check your medications. If you take medications regularly, check with your doctor to see if they may be contributing to your insomnia. Also check the labels of OTC products to see if they contain caffeine or other stimulants, such as pseudoephedrine.
      • Avoid or limit naps. Naps can make it harder to fall asleep at night. If you can’t get by without one, try to limit a nap to no more than 30 minutes, and don’t nap after 3 p.m.
      • Avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol and don’t use nicotine. All of these can make it harder to sleep, and the effects can last for several hours.
      • Don’t put up with pain. If a painful condition bothers you, talk to your doctor about options for pain relievers that are effective enough to control pain while you’re sleeping.
      • Avoid large meals and beverages before bed. A light snack is fine and may help avoid heartburn. Drink less liquid before bedtime so that you won’t have to urinate as often.
    • Remedies for Insomnia:  Another good article from WebMD delivers five habits and routines that can make a difference:
      • Exercise: Research also shows that it helps to improve your quality of sleep.
      • Sleep hygiene: Set a regular bedtime and a regular time to wake up.
      • Nutrition: Don’t eat big meals within a couple of hours of bedtime. The same goes for alcohol and caffeine.
      • Light regulation: When your room is dark, it’s easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.
      • Relaxation: Try to get your most demanding tasks or challenges finished earlier in the day and not within a couple of hours of bedtime.

You can find more sleep tips for seniors by searching in your browser for ‘insomnia tips’.

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