Getting a good night’s sleep isn’t always easy when you’re a senior. As many as 13 percent of seniors who are men and 36 percent of seniors who are women experience difficulty getting to sleep at all, and many more report getting insufficient sleep even once they do drift off.
Why Seniors Struggle to Sleep
One of the side effects of getting older is that you just don’t sleep as soundly as you may have when you were younger. There are any number of reasons:
- You get up to use the bathroom more often
- Your body clock changes as you age, meaning you get up earlier, go to bed earlier, and feel the need for more naps during the day
- Aches and pains can keep you uncomfortable and prevent you from falling asleep
How Much Do Seniors Need to Sleep?
You’ve probably heard that seniors don’t need as much sleep, but there is no “right” amount of sleep for any demographics. The right amount of sleep is what you need to feel good about yourself, rested, and healthy – though that number is generally between 7 and 9 hours every night.
Sleep Tips for Seniors
For seniors who have been struggling to get to bed on time or who don’t wake up feeling well-rested, there are plenty of senior health tips for improving sleep and getting more rest. It’s all about improving your “sleep hygiene,” getting rid of bad habits that keep you from getting a good night’s rest.
#1 Keep a Tight Schedule
There’s no better way to develop good sleep habits than developing a routine. Stick to the same bedtime every night and your body will quickly accustom itself to winding down at the appropriate time each evening.
#2 Calm Down Before Bed
Give yourself time to unwind before you go to sleep. Turn off the TV, smartphone, and screens. The blue light emitted by screens actually tells your brain that it’s time to stay awake. By shutting down and reading a book or another no-screen activity, you’re bringing your brain to a place where it’s ready for some shut-eye.
#3 Avoid Napping
Napping in the afternoon will disrupt your sleep patterns, delaying bedtimes and making it harder to for you to stick a regular schedule.
#4 Preventative Pain Medications
People who suffer from chronic pain are much more likely to have trouble sleeping than others. Preventative pain medication can help alleviate your discomfort and get to sleep. Talk to your doctor about medications that you can take before going to bed that will lessen discomfort.
#5 Have an Active Day
One of the most effective tricks for getting a good night’s sleep is having an active day. Get outside and start exercising. Creating a regular exercise schedule will help you feel tired and ready for bed later on in the evening.
The only thing to avoid is exercise within a 3-hour timeframe before bed time, as it will leave you feeling more energized than sleepy.
Developing good habits are key to improving your quality of sleep. Try these tips for a better night’s rest.