Senior Living Care Blog

Common Sleep Issues For Seniors

Posted by Joe Gilmore on Sep 4, 2019 11:00:00 AM


Along with many physical changes that come with aging, there are also a number of behavioral changes that can occur. For example, changes in sleep patterns are a normal part of the aging process and many older adults can experience trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Unfortunately, because sleep is such and integral part of a healthy body and proper physical and mental functioning, it can lead to many consequences.



A person asleep in bed next to their glasses. Common sleep issues for seniors include sleep apnea and snoring

One of the most common causes of sleep disruption among senior citizens, and among adults in general is snoring. Snoring is generally associated with people who are overweight, but can occur in anyone. It is caused by soft tissue in the upper airway vibrating as you breath.


While snoring can occur on its own, it is sometimes a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea which is associated with high blood pressure and other issues.


Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. Sleep apnea can be caused by a number of different things including, being overweight, having a large overbite, having a large neck, smoking, alcohol use, and more.


While chronic snoring is one of the symptoms associated with the disease there are many other symptoms including disturbed sleep, excessive sleepiness during the day, high blood pressure, heart attack, congestive heart failure, depression, stroke, and more.


While there are medical treatment options for treating sleep apnea, there are also a few simple lifestyle changes that you can make. For example, losing weight, avoiding alcohol, and quitting smoking will not only improve sleep apnea symptoms, they will also improve overall health and well-being.


Restless Legs Syndrome

A woman in bed. Common sleep issues for seniors include sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.

Restless legs syndrome, also called Willis-Ekbom Disease, is a problem that causes unpleasant or uncomfortable sensations in the legs and a constant, irresistible urge to move them.


These symptoms will generally occur in the late afternoon or evening hours and are most severe at night when a person is lying down or sitting. This obviously can impede a person’s ability to fall asleep or stay asleep.


It is estimated that up to 10 percent of the population in the U.S. has restless leg syndrome. While the issue may begin at any age, it more severely affects middle-aged people and older, the symptoms tend to be more frequent and last longer with age.



Sundowning is a sleep disorder that solely affects older individuals as it occurs in people who have Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. The term refers to a state of confusion that takes place in the late afternoon and extends into the night.


The exact cause for the behavior is still unknown according to the Mayo Clinic.


Sundowning causes a number of different behaviors including confusion, anxiety, aggression, and more. It can also lead to pacing and wandering.


Sundowning isn’t technically a disease but rather a group of symptoms that occur at a specific time of the day that can affect some people who deal with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.


Tips For Sleeping

A cat asleep on the couch. One common sleep issues for seniors is sleep apnea

As you can see, there are a number of problems and issues that can interfere with a senior getting a good night’s sleep. Fortunately, there are a few things that you can do to help promote quality sleep and help improve your situation.


Following a few of these tips may prove to help some seniors who are dealing with problems sleeping:


Create A Sleep Schedule

One of the best ways to improve your sleep cycle and keep your circadian rhythm in check is to create a sleep schedule and stick to it. Going to bed around the same time each night and getting up at around the same time every morning can help ingrain these times in your brain and teach your body how and when to sleep.


Avoid Naps

A bed. Common sleep issues for seniors include sleep apnea.

One major causes of sleep impediments in older adults is napping. Napping, especially late-day naps can cause seniors to sleep less effectively during the night and may inhibit their ability to fall asleep. To offset this try to nap only during the early day or avoid them entirely.


Develop A Routine

There are a number of relaxing activities that you can do before bed that can help induce sleep. For instance, reading a book or taking a nice bath can help put you in a more peaceful state and help you fall asleep and stay asleep.


Avoid Screens

An old school television. Sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome are common sleep issues for seniors

Making an active effort to avoid technological stimulation from cell phones, computers, televisions, and more will help the brain avoid over activity. The light from these devices may lead to difficulty falling asleep.


Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol is a substance that can be problematic for your health. Not only can it lead to direct physical health problems, it can also impede sleep. While it may make it easier to fall asleep, it can have a major impact on sleep quality and the ability to stay asleep.


Stay Clear Of Caffeine

A coca cola bottle. Common sleep issues for seniors include not being able to sleep from too much caffeine.

Everyone knows that caffeine can keep you awake. Caffeine is commonly found in coffee, tea, soda, and certain candies. If you can work to avoid these, you may be able to see a huge improvement in sleep quality.


Next Steps

Obviously, there are a number of problems that can get in the way of someone getting a good night’s sleep which can, in turn, lead to many physical and mental health consequences. Luckily, there are a few lifestyle changes that you can make to promote healthy sleep. If you or a loved one is struggling with getting enough sleep, it may be a good idea to look into outside options, such as an assisted living facility that can help.


Landmark Senior Living is one assisted living facility in Hobbs that is dedicated to making sure our residents are safe and cared for. One of our feature care services is our memory care unit that can help dementia patients. If you would like to learn more about Landmark Senior Living and the services and facilities that we have to offer, please visit our website and reach out to schedule a free tour of one of our facilities.


Learn More Here!


Topics: Senior Health

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