How To Help Residents Sleep Better - SpecialtyRx
March 6, 2019
How To Help Residents Sleep Better

In long-term care, the smallest acts matter

Here’s a guide to granting patients a good night’s rest

The older we get, the more trouble we have falling asleep and staying asleep. The problem is further compounded in nursing homes, where residents are subject to external factors in addition to their own biological and psychological disruptions.

Whether it’s roaming staff, chatty neighbors or carts rattling down the hall, patients face a number of challenges when trying to recharge. Many also have trouble sleeping due to underlying health conditions, actual sleep disorders and the effects of prescription medication. As compassionate staff, it’s our job to mitigate as many factors as possible

The State of Sleep 2019 Deprivation Data


Meeting their nocturnal needs

To ensure quality sleep among residents, consider the following tips across three areas of practice: environmental, operational and personal.


Uncomfortable bedroom conditions may be the cause of patients’ sleep problems. Experts recommend that rooms be dark and quiet with an ideal temperature between 67° and 70°F, but no higher than 75°F. Also, keep hallway commotion to a minimum.

Even when staff remains silent, a Harvard study determined that door alarms, faraway intercom chatter, beeping electronics—even footsteps—were enough to wake up residents. These disruptions are also proven to intensify memory problems.


There are other strategies you can employ all day long to help improve resident restfulness. To start, long, repeated naps should be discouraged. While elderly patients may nod off now and again, they should only be permitted to do so in moderation. Sleep restriction is actually a good thing, so keep time in bed to a minimum.

In fact, research ties constant napping to increased illness and decreased life expectancy. So be sure to set healthy expectations for sleep ‘hygiene.’ Experts also recommend you give residents access to the restroom as late as possible as to avoid mid-night wakeups.


Finally, every person possesses a different set of nocturnal habits. Perform regular medication reviews, educate staff on how to recognize sleep disorders, and be sure to deal with dementia patients differently than others.

For a quick yet comprehensive guide to ensuring residents get their best night’s rest, check out this free e-book courtesy of McKnight’s and Omnicare.