The Importance of Sleep for Older Adults

How many hours of sleep do older adults need each night? The answer is the same as every other adult: 7-9 hours. The common perception that we need less sleep as we age is false. It is very important to maintain a healthy sleeping habit. To help your older loved one we have provided easy-to-follow tips and background information on sleep below.

The Benefits of Sleep

We have all experienced being irritable when we do not get enough sleep. We often become less focused and can feel even sluggish in action and thought. The opposite is often found when getting a good night’s sleep, including:

  • Feeling more alert
  • Strong cardiovascular health
  • Less stressed
  • Better attention span
  • Improved memory and recall
  • Healthy appetite
  • Less likely to fall
  • And a general improvement in wellbeing

The Trouble with Falling Asleep

Older adults above the age of 60 do experience insomnia and trouble falling asleep due to pain, medication side-effects, and stress. If you notice any of the following it is important to discuss with your physician to prevent any negative impacts to your health including:

  • Wake up tired
  • Restless throughout the night
  • Wake up often during the night
  • Take a long time to fall asleep
  • Wake up early and are unable to get back to sleep
  • Feel very sleepy during the day

Easy Tips to Improve Your Sleep

Follow these simple tips to improve your sleep and your overall health:

  • Keep cell phones and laptops out of the bedroom
  • Limit napping during the daytime
  • Create a bedtime routine and stick to it (including when you go to bed and wake up)
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol in the evening
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get out in the sun during the day to increase healthy melatonin levels
  • Ensure the bedroom is comfortable for you

Lack of sleep can have very real health implications including: increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight problems, and breast cancer in women. It is important to monitor your sleep habits, note any changes in your day-to-day routine and share with your physician.

Don’t wait to address your sleeping habits – start tonight!