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6 Steps to Improve Sleep for Older Adults

A man with insomnia lies in bed, trying to think of ways to improve sleep for older adults.

We have all been there: slowing down breathing, counting sheep, listening to white noise, all in order to force our brains to shut down to allow us the sleep we desperately need. As we age, it can be even more challenging to get enough sleep. Older adults may experience modifications to their sleep architecture, including more frequent awakenings, lighter sleep, and a shift towards earlier bedtimes. Yet maintaining healthy sleep patterns is very important for cognitive function, emotional health, and physical vitality. Learning how to improve sleep for older adults is crucial.

What Affects Sleep Patterns in Older Adults?

There are numerous factors impacting senior sleep, including:

  • Medications: Certain medications might have side effects that disrupt sleep patterns.
  • Environmental Factors: Noise, light, and temperature can affect sleep quality.
  • Health Conditions: Arthritis, chronic pain, and respiratory issues can contribute to discomfort during the night.
  • Circadian Rhythm Changes: Aging can alter the body’s internal clock, resulting in a preference for earlier wake and sleep times.

So, How Can You Help Improve Sleep for Older Adults?

  • Mindful Eating: Specific foods promote sleep, such as those rich in magnesium or tryptophan. Additionally, herbal teas are known for their calming properties. Offer practical tips on portion control and timing to optimize the positive impact of nutrition on sleep.
  • A Comfortable Sleep Environment: Ensure the pillows and mattress are supportive and comfortable. Consider soft, breathable bedding materials, and if applicable, invest in sleep-inducing scents or a white noise machine to create an optimal atmosphere for relaxation.
  • Relaxation Techniques: There are a variety of relaxation techniques that seniors can incorporate into their pre-sleep routine, such as mindfulness exercises, deep breathing, and gentle stretching routines. There are both mental and physical benefits of relaxation practices in preparing the mind and body for a restful night’s sleep.
  • A Consistent Routine: Encouraging a regular sleep routine is essential for older adults. Beyond sticking with consistent bedtimes and wake-up times, consider incorporating calming pre-sleep rituals. This may include activities like listening to soothing music, reading a book, or practicing gentle meditation to signal to the body that it is time to wind down.
  • Regular Exercise: Exercise is important, but just as important is the timing of physical activity. Engaging in exercise earlier in the day can play a role in better sleep. Encourage activities that older adults enjoy, whether it is an early morning walk, light yoga, or gardening, fostering a healthy routine that aligns with their preferences.
  • Limited Naps: Though there are advantages to short naps, longer naps, especially later in the day, can make it harder to fall and stay asleep at night. Emphasize the importance of brief, rejuvenating naps while cautioning against extended daytime sleep, which may disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle.

Our caregivers are helping older adults in our community stay active and engaged, eat healthier, and enjoy calming routines that foster better sleep habits. Contact us online or call us at 805-737-4357 to discover how our home care services can help someone you love in Lompoc, Pismo Beach, Santa Maria, and the surrounding areas.

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