Older adults may have more trouble sleeping, expert offers tips

Common Sleep Disorders in Older Adults and How to Get a Better Night’s Sleep
Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 9:33 AM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - Between 40-70% of older adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic sleep issues. Sleep is one of the most impactful and healing natural processes we have for our bodies.

Andres Riobueno from Aging in Place said adults should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

However, older adults may be more likely to experience issues with sleep.

“A lot of what we’ve seen is that older adults usually end up when they have like sleeping issues, they end up struggling with focus and concentration, they seem to be a little bit more irritated by things that happen in their day to day, reaction times seem to be a lot slower. It could ultimately lead to some symptoms of anxiety or depression, which is a huge concern that we’re actually seeing, we’re facing in the country at the moment,” said Riobueno.

He said as adults get older, their internal clock changes. That change can lead to sleep disorders. He said listening to your body can help with getting better quality sleep.

“When you feel tired, go to bed. When you wake up, get right out of bed.”

Side effects from medications, health conditions, and hormonal changes can also hinder the ability to get a good night’s rest.

Medication that disrupt sleep
Medication that disrupt sleep(Aging in Place)

“Melatonin is produced naturally by the body. As you age, your body produces less melatonin,” said Riobueno.

He recommends daily exercise and a healthy lifestyle.

" A 30-45 minute walk. And having a balanced diet throughout the day. Being mindful of what you’re drinking. Try to avoid caffeine 8 hours before you go to bed or alcohol 3 hours before you go to bed.”

If napping is part of your daily routine, and you’re struggling with restful sleep at night, Riobueno said those naps need to be short.

“Plan 15 to 30-minute naps, which would allow you to be ready to go to bed at the time in which you’re supposed to go to bed.”

He said people who nap 2-3 hours during the day may be sabotaging their sleep at night.

For more information, visit aginginplace.org.