Senior Care in Darien, CT - Some Common Causes of Sleep Problems in Seniors and Ways to Avoid Them
Sleep is important for the health and wellbeing of people of all ages, but many seniors cope with sleeping problems that keep them from getting the rest they need, which has a negative impact on their quality of life during the day. Despite common belief, elderly adults do not actually need less sleep than younger adults. In fact, seniors need approximately the same amount of sleep in their elder years that they did in their younger adulthood. Though the exact amount varies depending on the individual, most aging adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night in order to maintain optimum physical and mental functioning.
If you notice your elderly adults are coping with sleep problems, it is important to make improving their rest part of your senior care plan. Some of the main causes of sleepless nights and things you can do about them include:
• Inconsistent sleep schedule. Encourage your parents to go to bed and get up at the same times every day. This teaches their bodies to sleep when it is supposed to and prevents oversleeping, which can lead to fatigue. If a senior care provider helps your parents get up and going in the morning, ask that she keeps a firm schedule so they are awake and active at the same time each day
• Too much light. Light is essential for keeping your parents safe, but it can also be a culprit behind keeping your parents up at night. Install dimmer switches and gradually reduce the intensity of the light as they get closer to bedtime to encourage the natural production of melatonin, a hormone that creates sleepiness and relaxation. Turn off the TV, computers, and any backlit devices at least one hour before bed
• Dietary choices. What your parents eat and do not eat can make it difficult for them to sleep. Limit caffeine and spicy foods in the 4 hours prior to bed to prevent the stimulation from keeping them awake. Hunger can also disrupt sleep. Offer a small snack such as a bowl of cereal, cup of yogurt, toast, or crackers an hour before bed to ensure your parents are satisfied as they head to sleep
• Dependence on substances. Aids such as alcohol and sleeping aids may seem like a good way to ease restlessness and encourage sleep, but in the long run they may actually make it more difficult for your parents to get the sleep they need. Encourage your parents not to drink alcohol within 4 hours of sleep and not to use sleeping pills on a regular basis so their bodies sleep naturally and do not become dependent on these substances
• Learned response. The body is incredibly adaptable and learns responses based on routine behaviors. This means if your seniors routinely use their bed for activities other than sleep, their body will learn not to sleep in that environment. Encourage your seniors not to use their computer, play games, watch TV, or pay bills while sitting in their bed. Likewise, trying to force themselves to sleep when they are not tired can also teach their bodies not to sleep. If your parents have been lying in bed for more than an hour and cannot sleep, encourage them to get up, drink a cup of calming herbal tea if they can handle liquids at night, and read for half an hour before going back to bed.
If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Darien, CT or the surrounding areas, please contact SYNERGY HomeCare of Stamford, CT at 203-661-6969.