Sleepless in our Senior Years

 

True or false:  We need less sleep as we age.

False.  All adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep a night.  As we age it gets more difficult to get a good night’s sleep.

For a number of reasons, seniors may notice some or all of the following:

  • Taking longer to fall asleep
  • Sleep is less deep
  • Waking up several times a night
  • Frequent nighttime bathroom trips
  • Sleep is not as restful
  • Tendency to fall asleep early and wake up early

There are some good habits to for seniors to try to improve the quality of their night’s sleep:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.  This will train your body to sleep on a schedule.
  • Avoid watching TV or being on the computer as it stimulates your brain.
  • Daily exercise will improve your chances of falling asleep quickly and sleeping well.  Do not exercise within three hours of bedtime, as this may make falling asleep more difficult.
  • Get some morning sunlight exposure.  Open those drapes!
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and smoking.  Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants,  and while alcohol may help you fall asleep you will be more likely to wake up in the middle of the night from a rebound in blood sugar.
  • Make your bedroom dark at bedtime to reinforce your body’s natural rhythms.

If these tips do not help, see your doctor.  You may be on medications that are affecting your sleep or you may have a sleep disorder that needs attention.

Sweet dreams!

Published on April 5, 2012.