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Older Adults and Sleep

There’s universal agreement among medical experts. Getting sufficient sleep is good for the overall health and well-being of Older Adults . But, how much sleep is enough and how much is too much?   

It’s not just about quantity. The quality of the sleep we get is also really important. Once people hit their 60s they often complain that they don’t sleep as well as they used to.  

Whether you’re receiving homecare or not, there is a lot you can do to help improve the way you sleep. Read on for the tips you need to sleep well and wake up feeling ready to go! 

The Optimum Number of Hours to Sleep  for  an  Older  Adult

The American National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 8 hours of sleep for older adults aged 65 and above. However, there is evidence that older adults who sleep between 6-9 hours compared to those who sleep less or more enjoy the following: 

  1. A better quality of life 
  2. Better mental and physical health 
  3. Better Cognitive abilities 

You may be one of the many older adults who are now thinking, “If only that were me!” Some estimates suggest that almost 70 percent of older adults have trouble sleeping.  

The reasons for this are many and complex. Here are some of the common ones: 

  1. A change in our hormone levels, particularly melatonin 
  2. A shift in our circadian rhythms 
  3. Lifestyle changes such as drinking too much alcohol or smoking  
  4. Not getting enough exercise 
  5. Pain from problems related to arthritis  
  6. Conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or strokes 
  7. Interference from medication 

Because of the variety of issues that can disturb our sleeping patterns, there isn’t a magic formula or one-size-fits-all solution. It’s also true that some people naturally find they need less or more sleep than others. 

That doesn’t mean we should simply give up. There are plenty of lifestyle changes older adults can make that are going to help them sleep better. 

Creating the Right Setting for a better Sleep for Older Adults 

Most of us will spend the best part of a third of our lives lying down and asleep. It makes sense to make sure that we are as comfortable as possible during that time. If finances allow, you should make sure you have a mattress that suits you.  

Your bed should be a place you look forward to getting into. So, if possible, sleep on pillows you find comfortable and in sheets and blankets made from a fabric that you like the touch and feel of.  

The temperature of your bedroom is also important. Overheating can cause dehydration, increase your heart rate and cause you to wake up suddenly. 

The ideal bedroom temperature is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s just over 18 degrees Celsius.  

Depending on your personal preference, you can allow a little leeway on either side. If you have a thermostat, most doctors agree that setting it between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celsius) is best.  

Things to Avoid to get a Better Bleep for Older Adults 

The blue light from mobile phones and computers can interfere with our sleep. Unless you need one in your bedroom for emergencies, you should make sure you keep all digital devices in another room. 

If you do need to have a device handy, there are relatively inexpensive specialist screens and covers available. These will block out the harmful light and are a sound investment for healthy sleep. 

Smoking and drinking too much alcohol are two of the biggest offenders when it comes to a good night’s sleep.  

You may find that one or two whiskies will get you off to sleep. Too many drinks, however, will interfere with the quality of your sleep and can cause you to wake up suddenly during the night due to dehydration. 

Things That Will Help You to Sleep Better 

Keep to a fixed schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night of the week. It’s vital to stick to a regular routine. 

You should leave about three hours after eating before you go to bed. This will give your body time to digest your meal. Avoid over-spicy or heavy foods in the evening. Make yourself a hot, milky drink before you turn in for the night.  

Those who enjoy reading find a book or a magazine in bed can help them to nod off. Others enjoy a relaxing hot bath or shower before bed to unwind.  

Don’t drink regular coffee or any other kind of caffeinated refreshments for at least 8 hours before bed.  

Taking regular exercise is one of the best ways to keep yourself fit and healthy. There is a proven link between exercising and healthy sleep. If you’re able to, you should fit in at least 20 minutes of exercise every day. 

Mindfulness exercises can really help us to fall asleep and, perhaps more importantly, to fall back asleep if we wake up in the night. There are plenty of online resources and apps that can help you practice and learn more about these useful techniques.  

It’s a Wrap! Stick to These Dos and Don’ts for a better sleep for Older Adults 

Remember to follow these simple lifestyle tips.


  1. Keep a regular sleep schedule 
  2. Make your bed and bedroom as comfortable as possible 
  3. Eat your last meal of the day at least 3 hours before you go to bed 
  4. Take as much regular exercise as you are able to 
  5. Learn some helpful mindfulness techniques 
  6. Remove digital devices from the bedroom if possible 


  1. Smoke or drink too much alcohol  
  2. Sleep in a room that’s too hot or too cold 
  3. Drink caffeinated beverages for 8 hours before you sleep 
  4. Eat a heavy or overly spiced evening meal 

Talk to Your Doctor if you are having issues with Sleep 

If you feel you have tried everything and are still having trouble sleeping, you should see your GP. They’ll be able to review your symptoms and might carry out some tests to confirm or rule out conditions such as sleep apnea.  

They’ll also know if any ailments or medication you’re taking could be interfering with your sleep.  

Comfort Keepers Homecare Services Can Help You 

Our homecare staff are on hand to help older people who want to change their daily routine and create a schedule for better sleep. They’ll help with creating routines that can include increased activity during the day and diet plans. 

To learn more about our homecare services, contact Comfort Keepers today!

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