A Senior Sleep Routine by
(194 Stories)

Prompted By Sleepy Time

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My current bedtime nightstand setup, with braces, pills for night and morning, etc. The lavender object is a pillow for between my knees to keep my spine aligned. Usually I’d have my cell phone (for the alarm) and more reading material.

I don’t remember being a particularly fussy sleeper, although I’ve been told I had night terrors (seeming to be awake but actually being asleep) until I was about four. When I was very little, my mother would sing relaxing lullabies, and when my grandmother shared my room, she would comfort me if I had a nightmare. Perhaps the biggest issue, mostly for my parents, was that I rarely if ever napped after about the age of two. In preschool and kindergarten I quietly sat on my woven mat while the other kids slept, so I guess the teachers tolerated that. I still don’t nap unless I am ill.

Preparing to go to sleep for most of my life was as easy as rolling into bed ... now it almost warrants a checklist.

Other than always having needed a high-normal amount of sleep, maybe because I don’t nap, preparing to go to sleep for most of my life was as easy as rolling into bed. There were the occasional difficulties with wakefulness when I was stressed, but nothing major.

These days I sleep in the “guest” room given the difference in sleeping habits between my partner and me. I wake up in the middle of the night more often lately, and I sometimes resort to breathing and meditation, and occasionally need some acetaminophen, to lull me back to sleep. However, the biggest change in the last decade is the increase what it takes to prepare for bed. The featured image shows my nightstand once I complete the process, which almost warrants a checklist.

Teeth flossed and brushed? (check)

Makeup removed and face moisturized? (check)

Moisturizing eyedrops applied? (check)

Tylenol and tums available if needed during the night? (check)

Correct pills ready to take the next morning upon waking? (check)

Dental night guard inserted? (check)

Wrist brace on to prevent odd bending during sleep? (check)

Pillow available to put between my knees when I sleep on my side? (check)

Cell phone charger available if the device’s batteries are low? (check)

Oh, I long for the days of just rolling into bed, but I am happy that I still sleep well more often than not.


Profile photo of Marian Marian
I have recently retired from a marketing and technical writing and editing career and am thoroughly enjoying writing for myself and others.

Characterizations: been there, funny, right on!, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Mare, this all sounds very familiar. It takes me so much longer to get ready for bed than it does my husband that he gets annoyed with me (he doesn’t take off make-up or moisturize, etc). WHAT TAKES SO LONG? Ah, the joys of being a woman. Besides, I want to watch the news and he usually doesn’t, so much of the time, we sleep in different bedrooms. And he gets up several times in the night to go to the bathroom and might wake me (I never go to the bathroom in the night). So we go our separate ways, unless on vacation. We are trying to be together again, now that we are on the Vineyard. So far, so good…

    • Marian says:

      I get it, Betsy. Dick goes to bed much later than I, and if he wakes up in the middle of the night, which is often, he likes to read himself to sleep. Light wakes me. On vacation we make do.

  2. Understand your longing for simpler, younger days Marian!

    A friend recently said now that he’s older when traveling the first thing he packs are his meds.

  3. John Shutkin says:

    I hate to benefit from others’ misert, Marian, but after reading about your and Betsy’s sleeping trevails, I think my empty-headed awakeness most nights just isn’t so bad. It’s certainly less complicated. That said, I’m glad that you are still a “more often than not” good sleeper. Sweet dreams!

  4. Thankfully Mare there are helpful drugs out there despite how annoying and dispiriting it is to realize how many some of us must take – but better than pushing up daisies!

  5. Susan Bennet says:

    Yes, Marian, the accoutrements of going to bed can suddenly require serious space! I laugh at interior designers who mock the use of bedside tables (for aesthetic reasons). They’ll see.

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    Oh, Marian, we are women with similar nighttime routines. It feels like it takes forever just to be ready to slip under the covers. By the time I get everything done, if I was tired I have gotten my second wind.

  7. Suzy says:

    Mare, I was relieved to get to the end of the story and see that you still sleep well more often than not. I was beginning to think that I was the only person here that slept well. I’m impressed with your checklist, even preparing for possible needs during the night and in the morning.

    • Marian says:

      Thanks, Suzy, I find that all the preparation the night before is really worth it because I don’t have to get up to go to a medicine cabinet to get pills in the middle of the night and become more fully awake. And, if I wake up early, I can take my first morning pill, roll over, and go back to sleep, which I often do.

  8. John Zussman says:

    I like the way you trace your sleep patterns back to childhood. Personally I don’t see anything extreme about your current routine, especially if it means you don’t have to get up till you’re ready. But I think you left “go downstairs and make sure I didn’t leave a burner on” off your checklist!

  9. Khati Hendry says:

    This list looked way too familiar to me—you are not alone. Oh for the days one could just tumble into bed without much of a thought.

  10. Dave Ventre says:

    We may be alone in this, but if either Gina or I has to get up in the middle of the night, we need flashlights to check if our dog has wandered into the bedroom and is sleeping at the foot of our bed. He is large, and prone to a very fierce startle response if disturbed while sleeping. And he doesn’t actually wake up immediately; he runs on some sort of atavistic predator autopilot for quite a few seconds. NOT something you want to trip on at 4:00 AM!

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