9 Tips for Improved Sleep for Elderly People

Having a loved one in old age suffer from not getting quality sleep can be quite challenging. Sleep problems can take a toll on one’s overall health, especially on elderly people. If you have an elderly in your family who has trouble sleeping, these tips might help them:

Have the person cut back on alcohol and caffeine

Alcohol and caffeine are not totally discouraged for elderly people. However, they must reduce alcohol and caffeine intake, especially if they have trouble sleeping as these substances can disrupt sleeping patterns. When you have an elderly in your family who occasionally takes alcohol or caffeine-based drinks, make sure they don’t drink past mid-afternoon. 

Have the person exercise daily

Keeping the person active during the day can do wonders on his or her sleeping pattern. People who are moving throughout the day tend to sleep better during the night compared to couch potatoes. That said, have your elderly loved one do gentle exercises in the morning to keep them alert throughout the day. Doing this promotes early bedtimes and deeper sleep. 

Establish a regular sleeping and waking time

People who have an established bedtime and wake time tend to be more alert during the day and fall asleep easier at night. Try to get your elderly loved one to bed at a set time every night to promote their body rhythms. You can try a couple of relaxation activities such as a massage or brush the hair gently to promote sleepiness. 

Limit or skip naps

Daytime catnaps are essential for elderly people to minimize fatigue, especially if they don’t get quality sleep at night. However, make sure they only doze off for about 20-30 minutes. Taking long naps during the day may leave them feeling groggy and sleeping at night can be quite difficult. 

On the other hand, if the person is not as sleepy or exhausted during the day, skipping naps can be extremely helpful in promoting sleepiness at night. 

Try relaxation rituals before going to bed

Gentle exercises such as yoga or meditation promote relaxation. Having a relaxed mind and body before bed improves better sleep. You can also massage the muscles or brush their hair gently as this can also help them loosen up. 

Don’t let the person have heavy meals for dinner

Heavy meals should only be taken in the middle of the day. Having hefty meals at dinner can result in heartburn, especially among elderly people. Having heartburn is such an uncomfortable experience that can result in trouble sleeping. Furthermore, going to bed with a full stomach is not recommended for people in old age as they might experience digestion problems.

Set a quiet bedroom with ambient lighting

“The sleeping environment plays an important role in everyone’s sleep. Given that older people can be more sensitive to noise or light, you must ensure that your elderly loved one’s bedroom is comfortable and peaceful enough. Depending on their health condition, make sure they have the correct mattress for their sleeping style and comfort, “says Linda Jones, a sleep expert at mattress help website Mattress1000.

It is ideal to have them sleep in a room away from the road as traffic noise can be bothersome. Additionally, keep the room lights low and play calming music if it makes them feel at ease.

If the person can’t sleep at all, get him/her out of bed

Never let your elderly loved one lie awake in bed hopeless of sleeping anytime soon. If you’ve tried relaxation activities but he or she still can’t fall asleep, allow them to get out of bed. Forcing them to sleep can only add up to their already piling stress and anxiety. 

In the meantime, you can give them a mug of caffeine-free tea or hot milk. You can also have them read a book if they want to do some sort of activity while waiting for drowsiness to visit them. 

When everything still doesn’t work, seek professional medical help

When you think you’ve tried every possible natural sleep remedies but your elderly loved one still have trouble sleeping, it’s about time you talked to the doctor. They may recommend medication to help them sleep easier and deeper at night. Moreover, when your loved one suffers from a health condition that makes sleeping difficult such as arthritis, sleep apnea or chronic pain, having it treated may improve their sleep. 


Having good sleep is especially essential for elderly people. Thus, as their guardian, you must ensure they get enough and satisfying sleep each night.