Adults require the same amount of sleep from the age of 20 into later adulthood. The hours of sleep per night changes by an individual, but many older adults get less sleep than they need. Age-related changes in sleep patterns, illnesses, mental health, and medications are among the factors that can worsen sleep. Good sleep is important to health and emotional well-being at any age, but is vital for older adults because it can improve memory, repair cell damage and help prevent disease.
- Older adults need as much sleep as younger adults
- Changes in sleep patterns are a part of normal aging
- Common factors linked to poor sleep in older adults include medical and mental health conditions, physical pain, medications, anxiety and depression
- Managing the physical and emotional causes of poor sleep and using good sleep habits can improve sleep in older adults
- It is important for older adults to talk with healthcare providers about sleep problems, so a personalized plan can be put into place to manage sleep problems
- Talk to your board-certifed sleep medicine physician.
- Visit www.sleepeducation.org
Studies on the sleep habits of older adults show an increase in the time it takes to fall asleep, a decline in deep sleep, and an increase in night waking with age. The most common causes of sleep problems in older adults are a poor sleep environment and daytime habits. Understanding age-related sleep changes and discussing underlying sleep problems with a doctor can lead to positive changes in daytime and sleep habits.
GENERAL SLEEP TIPS FOR OLDER ADULTS
Identify and treat underlying problems
- Take a pain reliever or talk to your doctor about alternative treatments for pain so that nighttime discomfort does not prevent you from falling asleep.
- Seek help to take care of medical and emotional problems.
- Reviews all medications and treatments that may increase sleep problems with your doctor.
- Maintain regular physical activity to help promote healthy sleep and lessen fatigue.
- Maximize sunlight during the day and minimize light exposure at night. This includes turning oﬀ the TV and computer at least one hour before bed.
- Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and cool.
- Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex; avoid non-sleep activities when in bed.
- Maintain a consistent sleep-wake schedule.
- Limit intake of caffeine, alcohol and nicotine that interfere with sleep.
- Reduce mental stress.
- It is important to talk with your doctor about your sleep concerns.
- Get tested for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea if recommended.
- Review all your treatments and medications with healthcare providers and talk about how to manage sleep-related side effects.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: CONTENT DEVELOPED BY THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF SLEEP MEDICINE