How can I sleep better as I age?

In the elderly, sleep problems might be related to another medical condition, so start by speaking to your doctor. The solution might be as simple as changing the time you take your medication. That said, the elderly should try to avoid sleeping pills because they raise the risk for negative interactions with other medications; some sleeping pills also can mimic the symptoms of dementia.

Try these tips instead:

  • Minimize caffeine and alcohol.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Avoid long or frequent naps during the day.
  • Go outside or sit in natural light to regulate your body's sleep-wake cycle.
  • Follow a regular sleeping schedule; go to bed and rise at the same time each day.
  • Use your bed for sleeping only; get up and try reading or another activity if you don't fall asleep in 15 minutes.
I have several recommendations for my patients to maintain better sleep as they start getting older:
Try to keep a constant sleep schedule making sure that you are going to bed and waking up at the same times each day. This will help keep their biological circadian clock in a regular rhythm.
Get plenty of outdoor light exposure, as this will also help keep your biological circadian clock ticking at the right times.
Watch out for hidden and not-so-hidden sources of caffeine including: coffee, tea, medications, chocolate, sweets, etc.
Daily exercise, with a doctor’s approval, is also a great way to maintain a healthy sleep pattern.
Keep the bedroom cool, dark, and quiet, and make sure to get a new pillow every year (for proper head and neck support) and a new mattress when your body tells you to(never go longer than about 8 years).

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About the Sleep With Me Podcast
About the Sleep With Me Podcast

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.