Sleep plays a vital role in your physical health. As we age, we often experience regular changes in our sleeping patterns, such as becoming sleepy earlier, waking up earlier, or experiencing less deep sleep. However, disturbed sleep, waking up tired every day, and other insomnia symptoms are not a normal part of aging. Seniors who don’t sleep well are more likely to suffer from depression, attention, memory problems, and excessive daytime sleepiness.
To help improve your loved one’s sleep quality, you must understand the underlying causes of their sleep problems. Adults over the age of 65 are recommended to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night. But getting quality sleep at night can be difficult for seniors. Here is why sleep is important for seniors and how they can get a good night’s rest:
Why is sleep so important for seniors?
Changes in Mood
One reason why sleep is so essential is that insufficient rest can cause irritability, stress, problems with concentration, and mood swings. Long-term sleep deprivation can lead to cognitive issues and depression.
Increased Risk of Illnesses
Headaches, body aches, and weakness can sometimes be attributed to lack of sleep. When tired, an older adult’s immune system doesn’t perform as well, opening the door to disease and infection. Some studies have shown that lack of sleep can lead to heart problems, diabetes, and even an increase in the risk of breast cancer.
Seniors that are having a hard time sleeping can get assistance from their doctor. However, here are a few things your elderly loved one can try to help ensure a restful night’s sleep:
Have a Set Sleep Schedule
It is beneficial to have a set sleep schedule. Going to bed at the same time every night, and getting up at the same time every morning, helps a person adjust to a natural sleep rhythm.
Being Mindful about Eating Habits
Alcohol, spicy foods, caffeine, and a diet high in sugar can cause sleep problems. Eating and drinking close to bedtime can also be a problem for some – rather than having a full meal before bed; it’s better to have a light snack or warm milk.
Develop a Bedtime Routine
Changing nighttime routines, and daily activities can have an impact on sleep. Try to find out what works for your loved one and create a schedule that they stick to – consistency is key! Some people find that more physical activity during the day helps them sleep better. Others find that napping during the day makes it harder to sleep at night, while some aren’t as affected. Try meditation before bed, a warm bath, or reading before bed can be part of a soothing bedtime routine.
While sleeping pills and sleep aids can be useful when used sparingly for short-term situations, such as recovery from a medical procedure, they won’t cure your insomnia. They can make insomnia worse in the long-term. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that treats sleep problems by addressing the negative thoughts, worries, and behavior that prevent you from sleeping well at night. A study at Harvard Medical School found that CBT was more effective at treating chronic insomnia than prescription sleep medication—but without the risks or side effects. CBT can be conducted individually, in a group, or even online.
Contact Us Today
If your loved one is still experiencing sleeping issues, please feel free to contact their local doctor. Learn more about how we can help and what we can do for your family member. At Courtyard Manor, we offer all-inclusive senior care. Contact us to learn more about our services today. We want you to sleep well, knowing that your elderly loved one is in good care.