Aging and Sleep: Sleep Tips for Older Adults

Aging and Sleep: Sleep Tips for Older Adults


The golden years can be some of the best in a person's life. Seniors have the opportunity to enjoy their legacy with family and friends, all while savoring life as it comes. From spending time with grandchildren to leisurely walks around the neighborhood, relaxation is a key aspect of this phase of life.

But in order to fully embrace these precious moments, a good night's sleep is essential. As we age, certain factors can interfere with our sleep, making it harder to enjoy the simple things in life. Our circadian rhythms, or internal clocks, undergo changes with age, shifting our sleep patterns and making it challenging to maintain a restful night's sleep.

Here's what you need to know to stay healthy and alert throughout the day. This guide includes information on common sleep disorders that can occur with age, how aging affects our sleep cycle and overall health, and additional resources to help you better understand sleep as you age. Remember, it's important to consult your doctor about any concerns you may have as you adapt to a new sleep cycle.

Sleeping Problems in Older Adults:

  • Insomnia: About 44% of older adults experience insomnia-like symptoms at least once a week, preventing them from achieving deep REM sleep, which is vital for full rejuvenation.

  • Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea is a serious disorder characterized by momentary breathing cessation during sleep. Symptoms include loud snoring, waking up gasping for air, and pauses in breathing reported by a sleeping partner. Seek medical attention if you suspect sleep apnea.

  • Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): RLS can occur at any age and is characterized by uncomfortable leg sensations, such as throbbing, pulling, crawling, or aching. Talk to your doctor about RLS symptoms, as they can worsen with age and impact sleep quality.

  • Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS): Individuals with DSPS struggle to fall asleep until well past midnight and face difficulty waking up in the morning. Try adjusting your sleep schedule, tiring yourself out before bed, and creating a sleep-friendly environment. Consult a doctor if self-help methods don't work.

  • Narcolepsy: Narcolepsy causes excessive daytime sleepiness and involuntary sleep episodes. Symptoms include sudden loss of muscle control, sleep paralysis, and hallucinations before falling asleep. Consult your doctor for diagnosis and appropriate treatment options.

  • Insomnia: Insomnia is a well-known sleep condition affecting older adults. It can be acute or chronic, caused by stress, mental health disorders, medications, or underlying health conditions. Staying active and talking to your doctor can help combat insomnia.

  • Hypersomnia: Hypersomnia leads to excessive daytime sleepiness and prolonged periods of sleep. Symptoms include anxiety, decreased energy, impaired cognition, loss of appetite, and memory problems. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms, as treatments are available.

Common Causes of Sleep Problems:

  • Lack of Activity: Decreased activity with age can contribute to sleep problems. Ensure you engage in regular physical activity to tire your body and promote better sleep.

  • Increase in Medication: Medications for other health conditions may affect your sleep. Consult your doctor regarding the side effects of your medications, especially if they impact sleep.

  • Stress/Anxiety: Stressful episodes in daily life can disrupt sleep, causing acute sleep problems. Acknowledge and address the root causes of stress, and consider therapy if episodes persist.

  • Shifted Sleep Cycles: Aging often leads to earlier bedtimes and waking up earlier. Embrace the new routine by making adjustments to meal times and evening activities.

  • Other Health Issues: Aging increases the risk of developing additional medical conditions that can affect sleep. Stay in touch with your doctor and address any new health concerns promptly.

Tips for Aging and Sleep:

  • Get Outside: Engage in physical activity for at least an hour each day to keep your body in rhythm. However, avoid exercising too close to bedtime, as it may hinder sleep.

  • Talk With Family, Friends, and Colleagues: Communicate with those around you about your sleep challenges to foster understanding and support. Sharing your experiences can alleviate concerns and provide comfort.

  • Keep a Journal: Maintain a sleep journal to reflect on your day and calm your mind before bed. It promotes mindfulness and helps track your sleep patterns. Share your journal with your doctor for better understanding and tailored treatment.

  • Practice Yoga: Yoga can directly impact sleep quality in older adults. Incorporate a relaxing yoga routine into your daily life to promote better sleep and improve overall quality of life.

How Much Sleep Do Older Adults Need?

Older adults should aim for the same amount of sleep as younger adults, ideally seven to nine hours per night. This allows for deep REM sleep, aiding muscle recovery and body rejuvenation. Keep in mind that falling asleep may be more challenging with age, so plan your bedtime routine accordingly.

When to See a Doctor About Sleep Problems:

If sleep problems begin to interfere with your daily life, it's essential to consult a doctor. Whether you experience consistent fatigue during family time or find yourself falling asleep at inappropriate times, early intervention is crucial. Delaying treatment can harm your sleep schedule and overall well-being.

Additional Resources:

For further information and advice on sleep-related topics, explore these resources:

Remember, sleep changes with age, but it's a treatable occurrence. Take a deep breath, make necessary adjustments, and enjoy restful nights on your perfect mattress. LA Mattress Stores is here to support you on your sleep journey, ensuring that you wake up refreshed and ready to embrace the golden years.