We have all heard that getting a good nights sleep is essential to our physical health and emotional well being, but just how much sleep do we need as adults? A recent study by the National Institutes of Health suggests that healthy older people may require about 1.5 hours less sleep than younger adults, an average of 7.5 hours per night. The study indicates that seniors sleep less even when given the opportunity for more sleep because of age related changes in the ability to fall asleep and remain asleep.
Sleep Issues for Older Issues
Experts have said that older adults who do not sleep well are more likely to suffer from depression, attention and memory problems, and excessive daytime sleepiness. They are also likely to suffer more nighttime falls, have increased sensitivity to pain, and use more prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids. Insufficient sleep can also lead to many serious health problems in older adults, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight problems, and breast cancer in women.
Tips for Seniors to Get a Better Nights Sleep
Here are some tips to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night.
1. Rely on technology. There are several sound machines and other sleeping devices that help eliminate or muffle outside noises, which will help light sleepers.
2. No more TV at night. Experts say the bright lights, sounds and images flickering across the screen trick your brain into staying awake. If you do not want to remove the television from your room altogether, at least turn it off an hour before bed and try reading at night.
3. Create a dedicated sleeping room. Some people use their bedrooms for all sorts of other activities, such as an office, laundry room, crafts room, etc. Try and keep the bedroom only for sleeping and make it as cozy and comfortable as possible so you look forward to going to bed each night.
4. Eliminate all lights. Turn off any night lights or hallway lights and try closing your door. Another option is to get a face mask to block out light.
5. Keep a routine. Each night you should follow the same routine so that your body learns when it is time to shut down and go to sleep.

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I agree with Jeanne on #4. As to #2, blue light has its own harmful issues.

Re #1, I would suggest keeping it simple - just put on a CD of soft, easy, relaxing music before bed. There are also some herbal teas, and foods such as turkey for dinner, that help create drowsiness.

As to #3, I'm completely surprised to learn that some people use their bedrooms as "laundry rooms."

I also would like to know specifically which study you reference. I've read a lot of NIH extracts, and find this conclusion somewhat difficult to believe. From what I've read and experienced, seniors need MORE sleep as they age.

I'd like to check that study and see what parameters were used, the age group, sample group, etc.

Are your recommendations ones that you implement when your agency provides care for seniors? Frankly, if I hired an agency that made those recommendations, I'd quickly find a replacement.

The issue of total darkness is especially troubling. We've always used nightlights, and found them absolutely essential.

Helpful post.

#4 has dangers of its own, especially for older folks. I find a face mask is better than total darkness in the room. It is easy to pull off or push to the forehead, and that is safer than stumbling to the bathroom in total darkness.

#2 includes viewing computer monitors and really any electronic device. The blue light can delay sleep. There are glasses that block the blue light spectrum to help overcome this.

This is really informative! Thank you for this post.

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