Aging and Sleep - Coping

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Here are some things you can do to promote sleep:

  • Exercise in the afternoon
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine for at least 3 or 4 hours before bed
  • Try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake at the same time each morning
  • Use the bed only for sleep or sexual activity
  • Avoid alcohol in the later evening (it increases awakenings later in the night)
  • Try taking naps but remember that sleep in the daytime affects sleep at night. You may find that a short (~30 minute) nap in the mid to late afternoon may give you energy in the second half of your day, but realize that such a nap can decrease your nighttime sleep need so that it may take you longer to fall asleep or you may sleep for a shorter time

If you can't fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed and do a quiet relaxing activity such as reading or listening to music. When you feel sleepy, get back in bed and try again. If not successful in 20 minutes, repeat.

Reviewed by Michael V. Vitiello, PhD (December 2009).