Sleeplessness isn’t ‘normal’ for older adults - The Explorer: Aging Well

Sleeplessness isn’t ‘normal’ for older adults

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Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 4:00 am

Contrary to popular belief, older adults require as much sleep as they did when they were younger. A healthy sleep, diet, and exercise regimen is often just what is needed to improve sleeping issues. 

The following tips are simple lifestyle changes that can ensure better sleep:

Keep a regular sleep schedule.

Be engaged. Social activities can keep activity levels up and prepare the body for a good night’s sleep.

Napping. Nap for only 15-30 minutes.

Get a little sunlight. Bright sunlight increases melatonin, which regulates sleep-wake cycles. Try to get at least two hours of sunlight a day.

Block out snoring. If a snoring bed-mate is an issue, try ear plugs, a white-noise machine, or separate bedrooms.

Quit smoking.

Examine and adjust diet: Limit caffeine from coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate late in the day; and minimize liquid intake during the 90 minutes before bedtime

Exercise. Take a walk, lift weights, swing a golf club, ride a bike or get in a chair volleyball game. At least 30 minutes per day of some kind of activity will help with sleep pattern regulation .

Sleep problems are not a normal part of aging and counting sheep isn’t a solution. Healthy, active older adults do not often report sleep issues; meaning that if you are experiencing difficulty sleeping, action can and should be taken to remedy the problem. 

National Sleep Awareness Week just concluded Sunday, for additional information on how to get a good night’s sleep, visit the National Sleep Foundation at

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