The following tips are provided by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to help older adults sleep well:
- Be consistent
Try to go to bed at the same time each and every night. More importantly, try to get up out of bed at the same time each morning.
- Limit naps
If you take a nap, then keep it brief. Nap for less than an hour and before 3 p.m.
- Enjoy afternoon sunlight
Spend time outside and keep the blinds or curtains wide open in the afternoon and evening. The sunlight lets your body know that it is not yet time to get sleepy. Shut the blinds or curtains when you go to bed to keep out early-morning light.
- Eat a little
Never eat a large meal right before bedtime. Enjoy a healthy snack or light dessert so you don’t go to bed hungry.
- Remain active
Try to get some light exercise every day. Take a walk, go for a swim, stretch or do something else you enjoy.
- Interact with others
Positive interaction with others can reduce the feelings of depression or anxiety that may disturb your sleep.
- Avoid caffeine
Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and at night. It stays in your system for hours and can make it hard for you to fall asleep.
- Avoid alcohol
Never drink alcohol to help you fall asleep. It can disrupt your sleep by causing you to wake up more often during the night.
- Use sleeping pills with caution
Use sleeping pills only when supervised by a doctor. You may need a smaller dose than younger adults. Older adults also may have a greater risk of some side effects.
- Talk to your doctor
Discuss any severe or ongoing sleep problems with your doctor.
Sleep & Growing Older
Reviewed by Rose Franco, MD
Updated August 31, 2007