Many people begin to experience sleep problems as they age. The elderly find themselves unable to easily fall asleep or incapable of sleeping through the night. What starts out as a nuisance can turn into a serious issue, with energy, stamina, and health compromised by the inability to get a “good night’s” sleep.

Sleep is essential for our physical and mental wellbeing. Sleep scientists advise 7 to 9 hours as being the optimal amount of sleep for healthy adults of any age. Here are a few suggestions if you or your loved ones are finding it difficult to get the appropriate amount of sleep:

Look at all medications
There are many medications with ingredients that can impact a person’s ability to fall or stay asleep. Though the medication itself may be mandatory, it may be possible to take it at a different time of day when there is less chance to interrupt the desired sleep pattern. Always remember to consult a medical professional before making any changes to medications and schedules, even one as seemingly insignificant as taking the medicine a few hours earlier in the day.

Minimize stress and anxiety at bedtime
It’s difficult to fall asleep after having a disturbing telephone conversation or even watching the nightly news. Make certain to engage in soothing and pleasurable activities after a certain time in the evening. Listening to music, reading a magazine, or listening to a book on tape is much more relaxing than watching a television show that elevates stress levels. Remember that the nightly news on most network television channels will focus on the day’s upheaval and global conflicts, which almost certainly cause anxiety.

Maintain a suitable temperature
It’s difficult to fall or stay asleep when the room temperature is too cold or too hot. Temperature requirements can vary from individual to individual, but it is important to land upon a comfortable temperature that suits the season. Invest in an air conditioner or fan during hot summer months and a heater during the winter.

Want a midnight snack? Perhaps wait until morning
Make certain to schedule your meals so that you can fall and stay asleep without being awakened by indigestion or a stomachache. It’s also important to watch your diet and refrain from eating foods that can cause digestion problems at any time of day.

Get regular exercise
There are major benefits to engaging in a mild exercise routine, not least of which is improved sleep. Again, consult with the doctor before starting to exercise, and if possible, consider working with a personal trainer who specializes in working with seniors.