What should you do if an older person complains of not sleeping well at night?
Experts do believe that “normal aging” brings on some changes to sleep. (See this post for more on how sleep changes with aging.) Basically, older adults tend to get sleepy earlier in the evening, and tend to sleep less deeply than when they were younger.
So it’s probably not realistic to expect that as you get older, you’ll sleep as long or as soundly as when you were younger.
That said, although aging by itself does change sleep, it’s also quite common for older adults to develop health problems that can cause sleep disturbances. So when your older relatives say they aren’t sleeping well, you’ll want to help them check for these. Figuring out what’s going on is always the first step in being able to improve things.
And remember, getting enough good quality sleep helps maintain brain health, physical health, and mood.
In this article, I’ll cover the top causes of sleep problems in older adults. I’ll also tell you about what approaches have been proven to work, to help treat insomnia and sleep problems in older adults.
Last but not least, if you (or your older relative) have experienced the very common combination of waking up to pee at night and difficulty sleeping, I highly recommend listening to this podcast episode, which features a geriatrician who is an expert on this: 092- Interview: Addressing Nighttime Urination & Insomnia in Aging.