7 Sleep Tips for Older Adults

As we age, our sleep patterns tend to change, which can make it more difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. Insomnia symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty falling asleep at night
  • Waking up during the night
  • Waking up too early
  • Not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep
  • Daytime tiredness or sleepiness
  • Irritability, depression or anxiety
  • Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks or remembering
  • Increased errors or accidents
  • Ongoing worries about sleep

Mayo Clinic

Lack of sleep can lead to a host of problems including memory impairment, mood swings, and decreased immune function.

More significantly, sleep disturbances may be a serious risk factor for dementia. In a 2023 National Health and Aging Trends Study, U.S. adults aged 65 years and older with sleep-initiation insomnia (trouble falling asleep in 30 minutes) showed a 51% increased dementia risk.

Fortunately, there are some simple steps older adults can take to improve their sleep quality.

Seven tips to help you sleep better

1. Stick to a regular sleep schedule

Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This will help regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

2. Create a relaxing bedtime routine

Establish a relaxing routine before bed that helps you unwind and prepares you for sleep. This might include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to calming music.

3. Avoid caffeine and alcohol

Both caffeine and alcohol can interfere with your sleep, so it’s best to avoid them in the hours leading up to bedtime. Caffeine is a stimulant that can keep you awake, while alcohol can disrupt your sleep cycle and cause you to wake up frequently during the night.

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4. Make sure your sleeping environment is comfortable

Your bedroom should be cool, quiet, and dark, with comfortable bedding and a supportive mattress. If you have trouble with noise or light, consider using earplugs or a sleep mask.

5. Limit screen time before bed

The blue light emitted by electronic devices like phones, tablets, and TVs can disrupt your body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. Try to avoid using these devices for at least an hour before bed.

6. Exercise regularly

Regular exercise can help improve the quality of your sleep, as well as provide a host of other health benefits. Just be sure to finish your workout at least a few hours before bedtime to give your body time to wind down.

7. Don’t stress about sleep

Worrying about not being able to fall asleep can actually make it harder to do so. If you find yourself lying awake at night, try getting up and doing something relaxing like reading a book or practicing deep breathing exercises.

By following these tips, you can improve your sleep quality and enjoy the many benefits that come with a good night’s rest. Sweet dreams!

Interested in learning more about the benefits of life in assisted living communities? Check out our free ebook, Just the Facts: Your Guide to Assisted Living.

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