Sleep Hygiene for Seniors: Tips for Better Rest

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that seniors aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Sleep is essential for the body’s rejuvenation and mental clarity, but changes in sleep patterns and other factors can disrupt seniors’ ability to rest peacefully. After all, the normal changes of aging include changing sleep habits, too. You may find yourself more tired than usual even though you’re getting the same amount of sleep as before, experiencing more frequent awakenings during the night, or feeling tired during times you are normally active. 

Even though these changes are a normal part of growing older, that doesn’t mean seniors have to resign themselves to poor sleep. In this guide, we’ll provide sleep tips for older adults that will help you get the rest your body needs. Let’s get started!

Establish a Bedtime Routine

Establishing a bedtime routine can work wonders for improving sleep quality. First and foremost, going to bed at the same time every night — and waking up at the same time every morning — is a vital part of developing a good sleep routine. This helps the body adapt to a consistent sleep schedule and naturally send the right signals to the brain. 

In addition, some people may find it helpful to establish a calming pre-sleep ritual to “wind down” before heading to bed. This routine might include activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing gentle stretches. If you exercise regularly, aim to finish your routine at least three hours before bed, as working out too close to bedtime can leave you feeling energized when you should be winding down. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol, heavy meals, and electronic devices before bedtime can also promote relaxation and better sleep. 

Address Medical Conditions Affecting Sleep

Some older adults may experience sleep disruptions due to medical conditions such as restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea, or arthritis. It’s essential to discuss any sleep problems with your healthcare provider, especially if you’ve recently noticed that your sleep quality has changed significantly. Seeking medical attention for underlying health issues can keep you more comfortable so that you can sleep through the night.

Certain medications, such as CNS (central nervous system) stimulants, antihistamines, antiandrogens, and benzodiazepines, can also have side effects that disrupt sleep, even if this side effect is not listed in the literature included with the medication. If you believe your medication could be affecting your sleep, consult your doctor about possible alternatives or adjustments to your medication schedule.

Minimize Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety can greatly impact sleep quality, and older adults are not exempt from common life stressors. Engaging in stress-reducing activities such as gentle exercise, listening to calming music, engaging in a creative hobby, or spending time with friends and family members can help alleviate feelings of tension and promote relaxation. 

Once you’re in bed, techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation can help clear your mind of worries and prepare your body for sleep. Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique that involves tensing and then relaxing each muscle group in your body. Starting from your toes and working your way up to your head, you’ll tense each muscle for about five seconds and then release. This practice can help you become more aware of physical sensations and enable you to recognize and release any areas of tension in your body.

Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment

A conducive sleep environment is essential if you want to fall asleep and stay asleep. Investing in a supportive mattress and comfortable bedding is a great place to start. Make the bedroom comfortable, cool, and dark to send a signal to your body that it’s time to rest. You can also consider using white noise machines or quiet music to mask outside sounds and promote uninterrupted sleep.

Good Sleep Matters!

As the Philadelphia area’s leading at-home nursing care organization, Aging With Comfort understands the importance of a good night’s sleep for older adults’ overall health and well-being. By following these tips, you can work towards better sleep quality and wake up feeling refreshed and revitalized during your golden years. If you are interested in at-home nursing care for yourself or a loved one, feel free to reach out to us today. We’re here to help!