The Importance Of Sleep For Elderly (& How to Improve It)

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Getting a good night's sleep is important for the elderly because it makes them more alert and energetic during the day, enhances memory and attention, and has a direct impact on their mental and physical health. Learn more about improving the sleep of a senior you love.

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Sleep is a vital mechanism for the rejuvenation of your body processes, regardless of your age. Sleep is important for optimal health and wellness of the older population in the country.

The population of over 65 years in the U.S. is steadily increasing and is expected to double over the next two decades to about 72 million. Roughly one in five people in the United States will be over 65 years of age by 2030, and lack of sleep is a common complaint among older adults [1].

A good night’s sleep of 7-9 hours is recommended for seniors to function at their best. But once you get older, a number of factors will affect the quality of your sleep and deprive you of this vital mechanism.

The most important thing is to take the necessary steps to help your loved one gain the amount of rest he or she needs. This article provides information on the importance of sleep for the elderly, and how to promote healthy sleep patterns in your loved one.

The Benefits Of A Good Night’s Sleep For Seniors

A good night’s sleep helps the body to repair any cell damage, refreshes the immune system, and improves concentration and memory formation. Seniors who don’t get enough sleep at night are more prone to suffer from excessive daytime sleep, memory & attention problems, and depression over time.

Here are some of the many benefits of a good night’s sleep for senior adults.

  • Increased alertness and concentration during waking hours
  • Enhanced memory and attention span
  • Reduced episodes of depression and stress
  • Good appetite
  • A more energetic and engaged life
  • Reduced risks of falling
  • Reduced medication usage
  • Improved cardiovascular health

And many, many more

Common Causes Of Sleep Problems In Older Adults

Insomnia and being unable to sleep is a common problem among seniors and the elderly. Here are some of the main reasons:

Medical Conditions

Health conditions such as arthritis, asthma, osteoporosis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, heartburn, and a frequent need to urinate can interfere with the sleeping habits of seniors.

If your loved one has a medical problem, you should talk to his/her healthcare provider to address any medical issue.

Sleep Environment and Poor Sleep Habits

Consumption of alcohol before bedtime, irregular sleep hours, noise & light, and falling asleep with the TV on are some habits that can affect the quality of your sleep.


The side effects of certain medications can interfere with the quality of sleep of senior adults. If your loved one has problems sleeping well due to medications, talk to a healthcare provider to make changes to the medications to improve his/her sleep.

Stress and Lack of Social Engagement

Social activities help keep your activity level up and prepare the body for a good night’s sleep. On the other hand, stress can also interfere with a good night’s sleep.

How To Promote Healthy Sleep Patterns In Your Loved One?

Use these ideas to improve the chances of getting a good night’s sleep.

Stick to a Regular Bedtime

Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Do this even on weekends to make your body get used to a sleep routine.

Calm Down Before Going to Bed

Turn off all the electronic devices and TV at least one hour before bedtime. Instead, read a book or listen to soothing music to get ready to sleep.

Take a Warm Bath

When you take a warm bath before sleeping, a drop in your body temperature helps make you feel tired and ready to sleep. It also helps you slow down, relax, and prepare for a good night’s sleep.

Avoid Alcohol Close to Bedtime

Even small amounts of alcohol close to bedtime may make it harder for you to sleep well. You may wake up in the middle of the night when the effects of alcohol have worn off.

Avoid Afternoon Naps

You are more likely to stay awake at night if you sleep during the day. So, try to avoid long naps.

Drink Less Fluids at Night

Frequent trips to the bathroom may keep you awake at night. Reduce your fluid intake just before sleep.

The importance of sleep for the elderly can’t be underestimated. Quality sleep helps improve the overall health and well-being of your loved one. Take necessary steps to help your loved one gain the amount of rest he or she needs.


Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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