Tips for Better Sleep for Older Adults

Sleep routines for older adults

As you get older, you’ve probably found yourself having more trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Maybe you’re going to bed a lot earlier or rising early with the birds. The way that you sleep changes naturally after age 60. To tell you why we have to get a little bit science-y! The master clock of your body is in a tiny part of your brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). This little section controls your 24-hour daily cycles or circadian rhythms. This influences your daily schedule, like when you get hungry and when you feel tired and alert. As people get older, this part of the brain starts to deteriorate, which disrupts circadian rhythms and leads to poorer sleep. Changes in hormones like melatonin and cortisol also worsen sleep since your body produces less as you age. It is important to note that if your sleep issues are majorly impacting your daily activities, be sure to consult with your doctor!


Whether you can’t stop tossing or are a frequent mid-day napper, there’s no argument that getting a good night’s sleep is essential! Older adults tend to have more sleep issues than others, but that doesn’t mean they need any less sleep. The National Sleep Foundation guidelines say people over 65 should get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. If you’re someone with sleep issues, you probably think that sounds unrealistic, but there are many simple things you can do to get better sleep.


Here are 5 simple tips for better sleep for older adults!


Create a bedtime routine

A routine can help your body adjust its circadian rhythms and get your mind and body back on track. Go to bed at the same time every night, try falling asleep in the same position, or have a warm cup of tea. Whatever works for you, the goal is to have signals for your body to recognize it’s time to hit the hay.


Let your body slow down

For about an hour before bed, do something relaxing for your mind and body. Read a book, do meditation exercises, or knit. Anything that helps you slow down before bed is good before-bed activity!


Avoid the screens before bed

At least an hour before bed, turn off your cell phone, computer, and TV. The light from these screens can interfere with your body’s natural clock! 


Create a perfect sleep environment

Try to keep your room as dark and quiet as you need and at whatever temperature is most comfortable for you. Keep non-sleeping activities out of the bedroom, like working or watching TV. It’s important to have your bedroom be a place where you can feel comfortable!


Stay active during the day

Studies have shown that exercise can help us sleep better. Exercise gets some of your energy during the day to promote deeper sleep. Avoid exercising just before bedtime because that could have the opposite effect. Aerobic activities like walking, dancing or yoga are best.


Having trouble sleeping can be super frustrating, and it can be tempting to give up and try to live with it. It’s important to stick with it and keep trying. A great night’s sleep could be on the other side of the pillow! 


At Trillium Communities, we offer a variety of activities that help our residents wind down and get prepped for a good night’s sleep. Make sure you stay updated on our event calendars to see what we have in store for you!