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Sleep and Aging: A Sleeping Guide for Seniors

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

Many things change as we age, including our sleeping habits. Unfortunately, seniors often struggle with getting adequate rest during the night, and a lack of sleep can have negative effects on their health.

If you are a senior struggling to get sufficient sleep, read on to learn about how our sleep changes with age and how to improve the quality of your sleep.

Why is Sleep so Important for Seniors?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 40% to 70% of older adults experience chronic sleep problems. That includes insomnia, sleep apnea, nighttime urination, restless legs syndrome, and other conditions.

In addition, we see a decline in sleep quality in the elderly. Older adults spend less time in deep, restorative sleep and more in the lighter stages of sleep. That means they are easily woken, so they often have fragmented sleep.

Seniors need adequate sleep to keep their focus, mental clarity, and physical health. That’s why it is vital to develop healthy habits to rest at night peacefully.

Do Seniors Need Less Sleep?

There is a shared myth that seniors need less sleep than younger adults. According to the National Institute of Aging, this is a common misconception because older adults generally sleep less. But that doesn’t change the fact that they still need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to keep optimal mental and physical health.

Adequate sleep has so many benefits on the lives of older people, including better memory, reduced risk of falls, and improved well-being.

How Does Aging Affect Sleep?

The most common senior sleep problems include:

● Inability to fall asleep

● Increased number of awakenings

● Fewer total hours of sleep

● Excessive daytime napping

● Too much time spent in bed

● Not feeling refreshed in the morning

● Being too sleepy during the day

We already mentioned that older people tend to spend more time in lighter stages of sleep, causing more awakenings. That happens because our bodies produce less melatonin and growth hormone as we age, and these are essential for entering and staying in a deep sleep.

Seniors also experience a shifting of their sleep schedule called phase advance. That means that they tend to get tired earlier in the afternoon, so they usually go to bed and wake up earlier as well.

Older adults also tend to take more naps during the day. Napping can be beneficial to get adequate rest and maintain high energy levels throughout the day. However, taking a nap too close to bedtime may make it harder to fall asleep.

How to Get Better Sleep as a Senior

Experts agree that there are some ways you can improve your sleep as a senior. That includes developing healthy habits and improving your sleep hygiene. Here are a few tips:

Stay Active

You probably know that diet, sleep, and activity are the three most important factors to your health. It’s interesting that they also affect each other. So, regular exercise and a better diet can also improve the quality of your sleep.

Exercising is particularly important in seniors, as it helps keep their body and brain younger. In addition, experts agree that active people need less time to fall asleep. So, try to incorporate some light activities that will get you moving. Just make sure you are exercising safely to avoid falls and injuries.

Maintain a Steady Sleeping Schedule

Seniors are usually good at maintaining routines, but we must mention that a regular sleep schedule is vital for quality rest. So, you should try going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day.

It becomes more challenging for us to make up for lost sleep as we get older. That’s why you should stick to your sleeping schedule and be cautious about napping.

Part of maintaining a steady sleep schedule is making sure that your bedroom is one of the most comfortable places in your house. If you look forward to when you lie your head down each night, that means your bedroom is a soothing environment. Little should be more comfortable to you than your mattress.

Create a Pleasant Bedroom Environment

Your bedroom should be your sleep sanctuary. Remove all distractions such as TVs, phones, bright lights, and other electronics that can disrupt your sleep. Make sure your bed is comfortable, your bathroom is dark, free of noise, and at a desirable temperature to get better sleep.

Your bedtime routine should include relaxing activities such as reading, taking a bath, tending to a hobby, or drinking caffeine-free tea.

As well to removing distractions the color of your bedroom can also play a role in creating a relaxing environment. Consider using calming colors such as soft blues, greens, or lavenders on your walls or bedding. You can also opt for neutral colors like beige or gray for a more minimalist look. Coordinating the color of your bedding with the walls can create a harmonious and calming atmosphere.

For example, using light blue sheets with light blue walls can help create a serene and peaceful ambiance in your bedroom. If you have a warm wood antique bed frame, perhaps consider a warmer hue to your rooms colors. By paying attention to the color of your bedroom and bedding, you can help create a tranquil environment that promotes restful sleep.

Avoid Caffeine and Other Stimulants

Caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol all impair your sleep quality. That’s why you should avoid using them in the second part of the day, as they make it more challenging to fall and stay asleep.

Drinking too many beverages can increase the number of your nighttime bathroom visits, so you should limit your liquid intake in the evenings. Also, having large meals can make sleep more challenging, so try to have light dinners earlier in the evening.

Stay Safe

Many seniors have mobility problems, making it more likely for them to fall and injure themselves. That’s why you should remove all tripping hazards from your bedroom, such as cords, rugs, and small furniture.

You should keep a light within reach so that you don’t stumble in the dark during the nightly bathroom visits. Always have a phone nearby in case something happens, and you need to call for help.

Getting a Better Mattress

A comfortable mattress is essential for a good night’s sleep, especially for seniors who often experience pain when sleeping on inadequate beds. Luckily, our mattress collection for antique beds is perfect if you are searching for mattresses crafted with only top-quality materials.

If it isn’t an antique mattress you’re looking for, there a plenty more choices that will ensure you and your spouse better sleep. Custom mattresses allow for exact specifications designed to meet whatever need you may have. Larger sizes, like a king bed or Wyoming king, can make sharing a bed more comfortable.

Make Your Next Mattress a Firm One

Another important factor to consider when selecting a mattress is the level of support it provides. Seniors who experience joint pain or back pain may benefit from a mattress that offers firmer support. On the other hand, those who prefer a softer feel may prefer a mattress with a pillow-top or memory foam layer. A good quality mattress can also help to distribute your body weight, helping with joint pain and promoting circulation.

Additionally, mattresses with motion isolation can help reduce disturbances from your partner's movements. For some couples this will make for a far more peaceful night's sleep. With all these options, you can select a mattress that provides a comfortable and supportive sleep environment for years to come.

The right high-quality mattress will make your sleeping experience so comfortable you will finally get the sleep you deserve and feel well-rested in the morning.

No Stone Should Go Unturned for a Better Night's Sleep

Whether it be a new custom mattress or a new workout regimen, finding a routine and arrangement that allows the best sleep possible is a vital step for all seniors to take. Ensuring better sleep will ensure better health throughout retirement.


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