10 Top Tips For Older Adults to Improve Sleep Quality

Simple but snooze-worthy!

By: Lexy Parsons

According to data an estimated 40-70% of older adults have chronic sleep problems, where an overwhelming half of these cases have remained undiagnosed. Whether due to increased stress, certain medications, pain or soreness, or a sedentary lifestyle, getting a good night’s sleep can become increasingly challenging with age. However, quality sleep is one of the most crucial lifestyle factors for maintaining overall well-being, including cognitive health, physical health, and mental and emotional health. So, we’re here to help you snooze when your head hits the pillow and wake up feeling refreshed. Read on for the top sleep tips for older adults, including how to incorporate them into your lifestyle with ease!

RELATED: 9 Mindful Activities to Help Older Adults Combat Stress

10 Sleep Tips For Older Adults 

#1 Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule

First and foremost, if you’re trying to get your sleep on track, consider establishing (and maintaining!) a consistent sleep schedule. Your body loves routine. So, by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, you can help regulate your circadian rhythm (your body’s internal clock) and promote a more restful sleep. 

You can even consider cultivating a sleep schedule based on your sleep chronotype! For example, if you love to wake up early, consider adopting an earlier bedtime to support this. However, if your energy peaks in the late morning or mid-afternoon, you may want to adjust your sleep time accordingly!

#2 Consider Your Bedroom a Sleep Sanctuary

We’re not saying you have to splurge on sleep products — or even spend any money at all — but, consider setting up your bedroom in a way that supports your sleep. According to research, the best sleep environment includes a cooler room (a temperature around 65-68°F) that’s dark and quiet. Maybe you use a sleep mask or blackout curtains to minimize light, or consider earplugs or white noise to block out noise that may disrupt your sleep. And if you do want to revamp your sleep space, if it’s feasible for you, consider investing in new comfortable pillows — or even a mattress — if what you’re working with is contributing to the problem!

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#3 Limit Inflammatory Foods & Adopt an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

What you eat and drink can have a significant impact on your sleep, especially if you’re consuming processed and inflammatory foods. From alcoholic beverages to refined fats and high-sugar foods, you may be harming your sleep health without realizing it. Chronic inflammation is not only linked to poor sleep, but it’s also closely linked to increased risk for adverse health conditions, including various cardiovascular and cognitive health conditions. 

The good news is that an anti-inflammatory diet — such as the Blue Zones diet or a Mediterranean-style diet — can help reduce inflammation, improve sleep, and even reduce the risk of illness and promote longevity. Prioritize whole, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Foods rich in nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, like salmon, flaxseeds, walnuts, blueberries, and turmeric, are particularly beneficial due to their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. 

#4 Stay Adequately Hydrated Throughout The Day

Staying hydrated throughout the day is key to supporting your sleep, as it can help prevent disruptions during the night related to dehydration. There’s research to suggest staying hydrated can enhance sleep quality and support deeper rest. Plus, if you tend to snore from a dry mouth and nose, this could even help minimize this by keeping mucosal passages moist! However, to prevent waking up to use the restroom multiple times at night, make sure to spread out your fluid intake during the day. If you struggle with this, keep a water bottle with you at all times as a reminder to keep sipping. 

RELATED: 11 Hacks to Motivate Yourself to Stay Hydrated

#5 Limit Caffeine and Alcohol

Caffeine, alcohol, and any other stimulants too close to bed can interfere with your sleep cycle and lead to a restless night. If you’re a coffee or caffeine drinker, it’s best to enjoy your latte early in the day and avoid drinking anything too late in the afternoon or evening. As for alcohol, consider limiting your intake to just one beverage, or even ditch the booze altogether and opt for a yummy mocktail instead! There are so many delicious recipes that will leave you feeling satisfied, and even support your sleep. 

#6 Maintain An Active Lifestyle

Regular physical activity can help you fall asleep faster and enjoy a deeper, more restful night’s sleep. Whether it’s going for a walk, spending time in the garden, or even deep cleaning and breaking a sweat, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise or activity most days of the week.

#7 Consider An Evening Stretch Routine

If you struggle with evening muscle cramps, a sore and stiff back, or achy joints, including an evening stretch routine could be just the thing to help support your sleep. As we age, it’s natural for our muscles and joints to become stiffer, leading to discomfort that can interfere with sleep. However, certain yoga poses and stretches help to relax the muscles, alleviate tension, and promote a sense of calm, all of which can enhance relaxation and prepare your body for rest. 

Here are some FitOn flows to consider:

#8 Prioritize Stress Management

Racing thoughts and ruminating at night are common culprits of sleep disturbances that can lead to trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, and getting overall restful sleep. To combat this, it’s important for older adults to minimize stress effectively in order to support and improve sleep quality. Incorporating relaxation techniques into your day, such as mindfulness meditation and deep breathing exercises, can help calm the mind and reduce nighttime anxiety. Not to mention, improve overall well-being! While incorporating stress-reducing practices into your daily routine is great, performing these stress-reducing techniques in the evening can help promote a greater sense of calm. Think: taking a warm Epsom salt bath, journaling, or reading a book in bed.

#9 Be Mindful With Your Naps

We get it, naps can be a comforting and pleasurable experience — especially if you’re feeling sleep-deprived! However, though napping can be beneficial, it’s important to limit the duration and timing of naps in order to prevent sleep disturbances later on. If you’re in need of a short snooze during the day, aim for 20-30 minutes in the early afternoon. Try to avoid anything too long or late in the day, as it can interfere with your nighttime sleep.

#10 Speak With a Professional

Finally, if you’ve exhausted all of these tips — quite literally — and still struggle with sleep, it may be time to speak with a professional. Ruling out sleep conditions such as sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, and insomnia — common in older adults — can help you get to the root problem of your sleep troubles so you can get the restful night’s sleep you deserve. At the very least, speaking with a professional can give you a better insight as to what is going on, and help you take the appropriate next steps.

The Takeaway

From turning your bedroom into a zen den to developing a consistent sleep routine and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, there are so many ways to improve your sleep quality. Give these tips a try, and incorporate any additional sleep habits that support your snooze.