What's the right amount of sleep for seniors?
Each person’s sleep needs will be different. Some people may need more sleep, some may need less. For most people, consistently getting 7-9 hours of sleep is the right amount. Getting less sleep than that on a regular basis will lead to negative effects for most people. These can include depression and irritability, memory problems, and a higher chance of slip/fall accidents.
Seniors often feel the need to sleep and wake earlier than they did when they were younger. Whereas someone may have gone to bed around 10 PM when they were younger, they may now feel sleepy around 8 PM. This isn’t a sign of anything negative, just a common thing that happens with age. If your bedtime becomes earlier, but you’re still waking up at the same time, that could be a negative sign. Like most things, best practice is to discuss any concerns with a doctor if it feels like it’s getting in the way of normal living.
Better sleep strategies for seniors
We’ve searched for the best strategies to consistently get better sleep. Here are the top strategies suggested by sleep experts:
- Following a consistent sleep schedule can help you fall asleep more easily, and feel better rested when you wake up in the morning.
- Take time to relax before bed using calming activities such as reading a book. Try to avoid electronics like TV or the computer for an hour before bed, as those can keep you wound up instead of letting your mind relax.
- Keep the bedroom a sleep zone. If you’re having trouble sleeping after 20-30 minutes, get up and do something else for a bit. Train your mind to think of the bed as a place for sleep, rather than a place for thinking.
- Avoid afternoon naps unless absolutely needed. This will help you sleep when you’re ready at night, rather than taking extra time to fall asleep after you’re already ready.
- Avoid alcohol and other fluids before bed. Drinking alcohol before bed makes it more likely that you’ll wake up in the middle of the night as the effects leave your system, while other fluids make it more likely you’ll need to wake up to use the restroom.
- Get outside and exercise (if possible). Exercise will help your body feel more worn out at bedtime, while getting some sunshine helps your body maintain its internal clock.