sleep: a bed with a book and blanket on it and a night stand

Many things change with age, one of which are sleep patterns. These changes make it harder for seniors to not only fall asleep, but stay asleep. The lack of sleep could also affect the caregiver due to always needing to keep an eye on the senior.

A few common reasons for sleep problems are:

  • sleep: a bed with a book and blanket on it and a night standDiscomfort from medical condition
  • Medication side effects
  • Needing to frequently use the restroom
  • Irregular sleep/wake schedule
  • Daytime napping
  • Too much time spent in bed

To help seniors find that restful nights sleep, caregivers may need to start with trying a few different change combinations. Be sure to only change one thing at a time so that you know which things work and which don’t.

  1. Consult their doctor
    • Keep a log for a few weeks of when they wake up and when they sleep.
    • If pain from medical conditions or side effects, ask if increasing or decreasing will help.
    • Ask if a sleep aid is safe to use.
  2. Experiment with lifestyle changes
    • Beverages
      • Limit caffeine intake.
      • Limit liquids when it gets closer to bedtime.
      • Always ask them to use the restroom before getting into bed.
    • Routine
      • Try to keep your older adult on a regular daily schedule when it comes to waking up, taking naps, and going to bed.
      • Limit the length of daily naps.
      • Decrease the amount of time spent in bed.
      • Try a wind-down period starting around an hour before bed. Play calming music, mellow activities, brief massage of muscles.
    • Comfort
      • Make sure their mattress is comfortable.
      • Adjust blankets and keep room at a moderate temperature.
      • Consider extra pillows or stuffed animals for them to cuddle with.
      • Use different positions or support pillows to help decrease pain or discomfort.

Information provided by