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Sleep Advice for the Elderly

Often, as we grow older we find it harder to get a good night's sleep. Read on to find out our sleep tips for the elderly.

8th October, 2019
by Carl Walsh

Growing older is a part of life. But struggling to sleep doesn't have to be. Insomnia is a problem that affects everyone, but it can become more of a problem with age. Sleep is just as important to your physical and mental health as keeping active. A good night’s sleep helps you form memories and improve concentration, as well as repairing cell damage and keeping your immune system working as it should.

There are many benefits of a good night’s sleep but first, it's good to know exactly how much sleep you’re meant to get and what could be causing your sleeplessness.

Older woman happy

How many hours of sleep do elderly people need?

The amount of sleep you need varies from person to person. A majority of healthy adults need around 7.5 - 9 hours. You can usually tell whether you're sleeping enough by how you’re feeling when you wake in the morning. If you’re feeling rundown, groggy and like you could use a few more hours, chances are you probably do. If you feel awake and alert, then you know you’re getting the right amount. 

What causes sleep deprivation?

There are many causes of sleep deprivation and they are often treatable. If you can identify the issue it’s easier to locate the cause:

  • Are you under stress?

  • Do you suffer from any underlying mental health issues?

  • Has there been a recent traumatic experience in your life?

  • Do you take medication that may affect your sleep?

  • Is your bed uncomfortable and causing you pain?

These are some common causes of insomnia, but others you can change yourself with simple lifestyle alterations. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

alarm clock

Tip 1 - Stick to a bedtime

Your body clock needs to recognise when it’s time to sleep. So try and go to sleep and get up at the same time each day so your body recognises this as your routine. Develop a bedtime ritual and stick to it, whether that’s heading to bed 20 minutes early and reading a book or taking a warm bath. This will tell your body that it's time to wind down. 

Tip 2 - Avoid napping during the day

This is easier said than done but it pays to avoid sleeping and napping during the day. The more you nap, the less tired you’ll be in the evening. You may also find yourself waking up during the night which can be stressful, so it’s best to make the most of daylight hours by staying awake. 

Nap

Tip 3 - Try not to watch TV or use an electronic tablet/mobile in bed

Artificial light from electronic devices can wreak havoc on your body's internal clock. This can have a big impact on your ability to fall asleep. Your brain needs time to relax and unwind and mobile devices and electronic tablets can often do more harm than good. Equally, watching TV before bed - particularly unsettling shows/horror films may also keep you awake. 

Tip 4 - No caffeine or alcohol before bed

Caffeinated drinks are used to stimulate your body, so naturally, aren't the best option to help you sleep. This is why you’ll find it increasingly difficult to sleep if you drink tea or coffee before bed. If you do enjoy a cuppa, get your fill before 3pm to allow the effects of caffeine to wear off.

Alcohol before bed should also be avoided where possible. Even small amounts make it hard to sleep because you become restless. The biggest impact is on your REM stage of sleep, this is where you store all your memories and learnings from the day. So maybe think twice about that nightcap.

coffee

Tip 5 - Create your perfect sleep environment

Getting your sleeping environment right is incredibly important. You need to make sure your bed and mattress are still doing their jobs properly. 

Your mattress should be supportive, but not too firm that it's uncomfortable. There should also be no sagging in the middle, and it should be easy to climb in and out of.

It may also be worth investing in blackout curtains, particularly for the summer months. This stops light from entering your bedroom, meaning you can sleep longer hours. You also need to get the temperature right, if you’re too hot or too cold this can prevent you from sleeping. 

These are just some of the ways you can improve the quality of your sleep. If you need any more help and advice then feel free to get in touch with us and one of our team we’ll do their best to help.

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