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Coping With Changing Sleep Patterns as You Get Older

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

Sleep patterns naturally change as you get older. Compared to younger people, older adults:

It's common for older adults to sleep less deeply and for less time than they did earlier in life. But these normal changes in the sleep patterns of older adults do not mean that the sleep they get is enough.

Routine poor-quality sleep caused by health problems, medicine use, and stress from major life changes can lead to chronic sleep problems at any age. This may increase the risk of serious health problems, such as depression. But few older adults get, or try to get, treatment for sleep problems. If you are an older adult and have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor about what you can do to improve your sleep.

Tips for improving sleep for older adults

Here are some things you can try:

If you care for an older adult who isn't sleeping well, you might encourage him or her to try the above tips for improving sleep.

Sleep medicines

Doctors recommend taking sleep medicines only now and then or only for a short time. They are not the first choice for treating chronic insomnia.


Credits for Coping With Changing Sleep Patterns as You Get Older

Current as of: September 23, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Mark A. Rasmus MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine


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