Sleepy Seniors: How to Improve Your Sleep As You Age

September 3, 2021

It’s not uncommon for adults to see their sleep-wake cycle change as they get older. This can be caused by any number of lifestyle-, health-, or age-related reasons. Some may experience frequent bouts of sickness or pain that can make it hard to get a good night’s rest. Others may take certain medications that keep them awake. But no matter the reason, missing out on a good night’s rest can affect more than just how you function the next day. It can impact your short- and long-term health as well. In some cases, if sleeping troubles persists, it may be advisable to see a doctor.

The good news is, being older doesn’t mean you have to be tired all the time. Most experts say older adults need about 7–9 hours of quality sleep each night. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help corral the sheep and tip the sleep scales in your favor.


Follow a regular sleep schedule

Setting and keeping a consistent time to go to bed and get up each day (even on weekends) helps your body maintain its internal clock. This, in turn, can aid in falling asleep faster, as well as making it easier to wake up in the morning — both lending to creating a better opportunity for a good night’s rest.


Develop a bedtime routine

Practicing a regular routine prior to going to bed can help you better relax and wind down. Additionally, the predictability of the routine will also help establish habits that inform your body and mind that it’s time to sleep. Bedtime routines can vary, but often include calming activities, like reading, writing, meditation, or taking a warm shower/bath.


Avoid late afternoon or evening naps

For many people, naps provide several health benefits, including relaxation, reduced fatigue, and improved mood. However, napping can also make it harder to fall asleep at night, leading to a sleep disorder or even chronic health conditions. If you’re going to take a nap, keep it short (15–30 min.), earlier in the afternoon, and in a comfortable environment.


Try to cut down on screen time before bed

Screens and devices are becoming an increasing part of our everyday — and everywhere — lives, including in the bedroom. However, the blue light from televisions, computers, and mobile devices interferes with the production of the sleep-inducing hormone called melatonin, as well as delays and reduces REM sleep. Instead, try putting the phone away, dimming the lights, and enjoying 15–30 minutes of peaceful relaxation before you hit the hay.


Maintain a comfortable bedroom temperature

Being in a comfortable environment is essential for healthy sleep. Keeping your bedroom at or around 65-68°F is ideal. Since your body’s temperature decreases during sleep, being in a cool (not cold) room will help you settle into and maintain sleep throughout the night.


Avoid late-night eating

While it is not encouraged to go to bed hungry, eating spicy foods or junk food that is high in calories can trigger cravings for more food, as well as cause acid reflux and indigestion — both of which can hinder your ability to sleep comfortably. The best time to eat is three hours before bed, allowing the stomach time to properly digest. If you do happen to feel a little peckish before bed, eating small amounts of complex carbs (fruits and veggies) or proteins will help satisfy the hunger and help you fall asleep faster.


Cut down on caffeine and alcohol late in the day

This probably seems pretty obvious, but caffeine (found in coffee, tea, soda, and even chocolate) can keep you awake. Whereas, alcohol, even in small amounts, can affect sleep quality and duration. Additionally, it can exacerbate the symptoms of sleep apnea. The best course of action is to drink in moderation and be aware of how your sleep habits are impacted.


At Summit Vista, we realize safety, health, and well-being are an important consideration when exploring your retirement living options. That’s why we make our community the maintenance-free experience you desire with the peace of mind you’d expect for a happy, healthy future that’s free of concern. For more information about the benefits offered in a Life Plan Community, speak with your retirement counselor, or call (801) 758-3138 today.