Is Your Aging Parent Getting Enough Sleep?

Tired parents that need sleepMany elderly adults do not get enough sleep-or enough high-quality sleep. A lack of sleep can worsen memory problems, impair the immune system, and contribute to depression. Here’s a closer look at sleep deprivation in older adults, and how you can help your parent sleep better.

How Much Sleep Do Older Adults Need?

There’s a common misconception that older adults do not need as much sleep as younger adults. This is not the case. Older adults still need 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep each day. However, as a person ages, their circadian rhythm (the biological clock that governs sleep-wake cycles) shifts, causing them to go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier.

Why Don’t Older Adults Get Enough Sleep?

Older adults who still try to stay up late at night may not end up getting enough sleep because their biological clock then wakes them up early-before they’ve slept for a full 7 to 8 hours. There are several other common reasons why older adults don’t sleep well.

Chronic Diseases 

Many older adults suffer from medical conditions that keep them from falling asleep comfortably. Arthritis, for instance, may make it difficult for your parent to find a comfortable sleeping position. Sleep apnea, a condition that causes patients to stop breathing for as long as 60 seconds while sleeping, lessens the quality of sleep and may cause your parent to wake up several times during the night. It becomes increasingly common with age.


Some of the medications prescribed to older adults may make it harder for them to fall asleep or stay asleep. And older adults who do not always take their medications on time may suffer the worst of these effects.

Lack of Exercise

Regular exercise makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep, but many older adults are relatively inactive. Older adults who live on their own without a caregiver may avoid exercising in fear that they will fall and injure themselves.

Anxiety and Worry

Just as you have a hard time falling asleep at night if you are feeling anxious or worried, so does your older parent. Anxiety often goes untreated in older adults, and even day-to-day worries can have a profound impact on your parent’s sleep cycle, especially if they live alone and don’t have someone to discuss their worries with.

How Can You Help Your Parent Get Better Sleep?

Helping you parent get better sleep can improve their mood, fend off disease and infections, and improve their overall quality of life. Here are some simple ways you can help.

Arrange For In-Home Care As Needed

In-home care can work wonders for older adults who are having trouble sleeping. Having a nurse or CNA administer your parent’s medications will ensure they take them on-schedule, which should help regulate their sleeping patterns. Plus, knowing that their housekeeping and other tasks are taken care of will help ease anxiety that may be keeping your parent up at night.

In-home care providers like Queen City Homecare can also transport your parent to and from doctor’s appointments. This will ensure health ailments like sleep apnea and arthritis are managed properly so they don’t interfere with your parent’s sleep habits.

Encourage Exercise

Your parent may not be able to jog around the block or ride a bicycle, but this does not mean they can’t exercise. Take them to some local fitness classes for seniors, or find some simple arm weight workout videos you can both follow along with. If your parent can still walk with relative ease, a daily walk around the block can do wonders for their psyche and sleep patterns.

Create a Safe, Comfortable Sleeping Environment

Make sure your parent has a comfortable bed; replace their mattress or bedding if it has aged and is no longer suitable. Make sure it’s easy for them to get in and out of bed too. You may need to install grab bars near the bed so they can steady themselves.

With quality home care, a comfortable sleep environment, and more physical activity, your parent will enjoy better-quality sleep. And quality sleep is key for ongoing health.