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Basic Facts & Information

Most of us can remember sleeping very well when we were younger. As we age many people find that they develop sleep problems. The daytime sleepiness and the afternoon nap are often more common. It is not true that as we age we need less sleep, the average person young or old requires 7 to 8 hours sleep per night.

Sleep problems lead to:

• Sleepiness and fatigue during the day

• difficulties with concentration and work

• increased risk of illness

• mood changes such as irritability and depression

• injuries


The most common types of sleep problems effecting older people fall into the following categories:

• Insomnia difficulty getting enough sleep or poor quality sleep

• Sleep disorders related to living in care facilities

• Sleep wake cycle or circadian rhythm sleep disorders

• Breathing problems that affect sleep like sleep apnoea

• Movements that affect sleep like restless leg syndrome

• Sleep problems that are related to psychiatric or medical conditions


During the day:

• Keep to a regular schedule of what time you go to bed and when you get up, this is important.

• Plenty of bright light during the day is good

• Exercise every day, morning is best and not within three hours of sleeptime

• Avoid day napping


In the evening:

• Avoid caffeine, alcohol and tobacco.

• Avoid spending more than 7 or 8 hours in bed a night

• Develop a night time routine that is the same every night

• If hungry have something light to eat or some warm milk. Milk is however not recommended if you suffer from reflux (heartburn)

• Have a warm bath or shower about 90 minutes before going to bed

• Only go to bed when you are sleepy

• Your room should be dark and a good temperature. Keep bed clothes loose.

• Often stress and relaxation techniques before going to bed can help

• If you cannot get to sleep after 20 minutes or so go to another room read or listen to some music for a short while then try again.

• Keep your bed only for sleep or sex not for watching television or phone conversations

Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes can alleviate symptoms of sleep apnea. These include

• For overweight people losing weight can greatly assist

• Avoiding smoking and alcohol.

• Sleep on your side rather than on your back.

• Some natural herbal remedies have been known to assist with sleep problems.

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