Get a Good Night’s Sleep at Any Age

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Are you having trouble sleeping at night? Older adults need about the same amount of sleep as all adults — seven to nine hours each night — but this goal can become more difficult to achieve as you age. 

The Importance of Sleep

When you wake up in the morning, you hope to feel refreshed and ready to tackle the day. But when you regularly do not get enough sleep, you may increase your risk of:

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Memory issues
  • Health conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke
  • Falls and accidents

This makes sleep a key component of your overall health — mental and physical.

Why sleeping becomes more difficult as you age
You may find that you don’t sleep as well as you used to. Many older adults take longer to fall asleep, sleep more lightly or for shorter periods of time, or wake up multiple times throughout the night.

Additionally, other factors can interrupt sleep, including:

  • Pain
  • Certain medications 
  • Conditions including insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and others
  • Worry over being unable to sleep

The good news is that you don’t have to go through life exhausted — you can take steps to improve your quality of sleep.


How to Sleep Better at Night

Better sleep starts with creating good habits and routines leading up to bedtime: 

  • Stick to a sleep schedule. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. Plan to eat dinner at a time that’s not too close to bedtime. 
  • Avoid naps after 3 p.m. You might end up feeling too awake at night.  
  • Exercise Regularly — but not too close to bedtime. Give yourself at least three hours between exercise and bedtime. 
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening. Coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate (yes, even chocolate has some caffeine) can make it hard to wind down. And alcohol may make it hard to stay asleep. 
  • Avoid screens close to bedtime. The light from smartphones, televisions, and computers can make it difficult to sleep. Consider using low lighting throughout your home in the evenings. 
  • Wind down. Before bed, you can read a book, take a warm bath, or listen to calming music — any activity that helps soothe your mind and body. 
  • Keep your bedroom at a cool temperature, and use it only for sleeping. Try not to watch TV in bed, for example. And once you get into bed, give yourself 20 minutes to fall asleep. If you’re still wide awake after that, get out of bed and come back when you start to feel sleepy. 

When to See a Doctor
If you’re struggling with sleep for more than two to three weeks, talk to your doctor. Your doctor can discuss treatment options and determine if you have a sleep disorder. 

Resources & Tools

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