Senior Sleep Patterns
How Aging Affects Sleep
Unfortunately, changes in sleep patterns are a normal part of aging. Many elderly adults have a difficult time falling asleep and staying asleep. In some scenarios, the challenge is due to a sleeping disorder or the side effect of a medication.
However, the reduction of REM sleep is often the cause of sleep disturbance in seniors. Simply put, seniors are lighter sleepers. Seniors wake up more often due to noise, aches, movement, the need to use the bathroom, etc.
Common Sleep Illnesses Seniors Face
For those seniors whose difficulties with sleep result from medical conditions, make sure to receive medical treatment. Encourage your sleep-deprived senior loved ones to see their doctor if they experience any of the following:
- Advanced Sleep Phase Syndrome
- Sleep Apnea
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Sleep-related side effects of underlying diseases
Issues like these can often improve through lifestyle changes or medications. Seniors can consult with their doctor to learn about the best treatment options for their particular problem.
Tips to Improve Senior Sleep Patterns
To make the most out of sleep, seniors can use these following simple tips:
1. Be Mindful
Stress, worry and negative thought patterns can disrupt sleep—even if seniors try to “think positively” right before bed. Sleep deprivation affects mental health and vice versa. Therefore, encourage seniors to develop a healthy response to stress at all hours.
2. Exercise Regularly
Physical activity can help the body sleep. In addition, regular exercise offers health benefits that positively impact sleep. These health benefits include the following:
- lower blood pressure
- stress relief
- improved breathing
3. Form a Bedtime Routine
Many habits can influence sleep for better or for worse. Lying in bed during the day can disrupt sleep patterns. Also, watching television or screen time on the phone at night can delay sleep. Encourage elderly loved ones to establish a bedtime routine that includes doing something quiet and relaxing for an hour.
4. Eat and Drink for Better Sleep
Sometimes seniors drink alcohol before bed because it makes them sleepy. However, alcohol tends to wake people up in the middle of the night and reduce REM sleep cycles. Food also does the same. Make sure seniors avoid eating food or drinking alcohol for 2-3 hours before bedtime.
These are just a few tips to improve senior sleep patterns during Sleep Awareness Month. Our at-home caregivers here at HomeSpark offer a variety of services, such as companionship, personal care, meal preparation, transportation, household duties, respite care and 24 hour care. We also offer ReSpark Service for anyone looking to get their home back into shape. ReSpark Service is great upon release from the hospital or skilled nursing facility. Contact us with the link below for more information!