Better Sleep for Seniors
5 Practical Tips to Help You Sleep Better
As we age, the architecture of our sleep changes dramatically. The deep, delectable sleep in which we're oblivious to the outside world and its sounds, called slow wave sleep, becomes shorter and more elusive. Our total sleep time also declines. Infants sleep an average of 11.6 hours per night, but by the time we hit 70, our nighttime sleep has shrunk by nearly half, to an average of 6.6 hours.
Just because older people sleep less doesn't necessarily mean they have sleep problems. But if someone you're caring for complains of not sleeping well, having to get up frequently at night, or not waking up feeling refreshed, consider taking him or her to visit to the doctor. A thorough exam can unearth problems that can interfere with sleep, including pain from arthritis or other chronic conditions.
Medications can also interfere with sleep. Diuretics, typically used to reduce fluid retention in people with congestive heart failure, can cause a need to urinate frequently in the middle of the night if taken too late. Beta blockers, a class of heart medications, can cause insomnia, as can medications used to treat high blood pressure and thyroid problems. See our checklist for more about sleep problems.
Some sleep strategies that can help: