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Six techniques to counter sleep problems in the elderly


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"Oh, I couldn't fall asleep for a long time last night. I'm feeling so tired now!" 

I would hear this so often from my septuagenarian mom. She would reminisce about how easily she would sleep in her younger days and how that has gradually changed to her being almost an insomniac. After battling many such days, we visited her physician and experimented with a few solutions before finding a combination that worked for her, at least on most days. 

Sleep problems are typical for the elderly. The usual solution, and one that even doctors recommend, is a low dose of hypnotics. However, regular usage of sleep pills can trigger other conditions, such as drowsiness during the day, brain fog, and general dullness. Moreover, the body might soon get used to the medication, which means after a point, you would still not be able to fall asleep as fast as you did when you began the pills. The vicious circle might continue if the physician decides to ramp up the dosage. We need to explore other ways to combat the condition. 

So, how to ensure you sleep better as you grow older?

Here are six practical and easy tips to improve sleep for the elderly.

1. Follow a bedtime routine: 

The body loves predictability. As parents, we created routines for our kids to develop healthy bodies and minds. As older adults, we should follow suit to reap the same benefits. So, it's a good idea to go to bed around the same time each night, even though you might not be sleepy. The idea is to let the body fall into the pattern. 

2. Switch off the devices: 

Our lives revolve around our phones, TVs, and laptops. However, the mind needs time to wind down from the stimulating environment. Experts suggest switching off all electronic gadgets at least an hour before bedtime to ensure a good night's sleep. Take the help of music or a favorite book to lull you into sleep. 

3. A warm bath:

Taking a warm shower melts away the day's tiredness. Studies show that water, medium in temperature, increases blood flow to the hands and feet, helping the body cool down and relaxing tense muscles.  

4. Add daily movement:

Include a daily dose of movement in your day. It could be a brisk walk, yoga, cycling, gym, or anything else you prefer. When the body gets the required workout (make sure you don't over-tire), it will regulate the sleep cycle and improve sleep quality. 

5. Skip the afternoon nap:

While a short afternoon nap is beneficial since it refreshes the mind, a long one could upset the night schedule. If you wake up very early or have a busy schedule, you must rejuvenate with a brief spell. In any case, set the alarm and sleep no more than 15-20 min. Make sure you don't nap post 4 p.m. to ensure you don't stay awake late into the night.

6. Sleep meditation:

Often our minds are racing with thoughts, worries, and anxious feelings, not letting us focus on the present moment. Mindfulness is a conscious thought process that trains the mind to stay in the now. This process is a journey and does not happen at once. There are dedicated guided meditation techniques to promote better sleep. 

Listening to Meditation music is also an excellent method to relax the mind and fall asleep.

Do you also suffer from irregular sleep patterns? Let us know if these tips helped you. 

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A society that cares for its senior citizens is a civilized and enlightened society. The aging happens on its own without any prompting from our side! It is an issue of mind over matter…if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter!


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    Kovaiputhur, Coimbatore,
    Tamil Nadu 641010
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