As we age, our sleep patterns change. We spend less time in a deep sleep dreaming state than we did in our youth. Some of us may have problems falling asleep or staying asleep, sometimes waking repeatedly throughout the night. We wake up exhausted and are feeling tired throughout the day. So how do older adults in senior care get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep they need each night?
Regardless of age, we require a good quality of sleep to be healthy. Good sleep allows our body to rest and regain its energy levels. With a lack of sleep, we can suffer from sleep deprivation, low mental health, irritability, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, increased risk for accidents because of slower reaction time, weight gain, and overall reduced quality of life. Let’s look at some common sleep problems associated with aging and offer a few tips that may help you finally achieve a restful night’s sleep.
Sleep Problems in Senior Living
If you’re struggling to get the recommended hours of sleep each night, you’re not alone. More and more adults are getting less than seven hours of sleep over a 24-hour-period. But why, you ask? Read below for several factors that can cause sleep issues for older adults in senior care:
- Worry or grief. Aging brings many life changes. Losing a loved one, moving from your family home, or going through an illness can all be stressful and hinder your sleep.
- Illness or pain: Feeling unwell or in pain can make sleeping difficult. Suffering from arthritis can cause pain that keeps you awake in bed. Diabetes or an enlarged prostate can cause you to take frequent trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
- Prescription medication: Some prescription drugs make it harder to fall asleep, or they can even stimulate you to stay awake.
- Sleep disorders: There may be medical disorders that cause insomnia, snoring and sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, or REM behavior disorder.
- Too much relaxing. Many people stay active well into their golden years. But if most of your days are spent sitting in a lazy boy, you may find it harder to get good sleep.
Eight Tips to Improve Your Sleep
The good news is that you can usually improve your sleep quality by identifying the underlying cause of your sleep problems and making small lifestyle changes. Try these:
- Follow a regular schedule. Go to sleep and wake up each day at the same time. Regular sleep sets the body’s circadian clock, a 24-hour internal rhythm affected by sunlight. Waking at the same time each day is the best way to set your internal clock.
- Have a bedtime routine. Please do the same things each night to tell your body that it’s time to wind down. Make the transition with relaxing activities an hour or so before bed, such as reading a book, listening to soft music, or soaking in a warm bath.
- Create a comfortable sleep space: A calm, dark, and cool environment can help promote sound sleep. Close your curtains, set the room temperature to comfortably cool, and use earplugs.
- Keep electronic devices out of the bedroom: Blue light from screens can stimulate your brain and make it difficult to fall asleep.
- Use your bedroom only for sleeping. Allow yourself 20 minutes to fall asleep. If you’re still awake, get out of bed, go to another room and read or listen to music until you’re tired enough to sleep.
- Avoid too much napping. A 20-minute power snooze can improve your energy and help you get back to your day recharged. If you must nap, keep it short and before 4 p.m.
- Exercise regularly. Exercising daily improves the quality of your nighttime sleep. It helps you sleep soundly – as long as it’s not done right before bedtime. Try to finish exercising at least three hours before bed.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes: Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and should be avoided four to six hours before bedtime or entirely. Even small amounts of alcohol can make it harder to stay asleep.
Whatever you do, don’t accept being tired as part of getting older. When you improve your sleep, you improve your peace of mind, health, immune system, and longevity. The benefits of sleep are numerous and should always be a priority.
Please visit The Summit at Sunland Springs in East Mesa, Arizona. We offer several types of senior care. Come by for a visit. We look forward to meeting you.