Health & Fitness

Sleep Disorder Care for the Elderly

A good night’s sleep is one of the most important components of a healthy and energized life. Sleep deprivation can lead to a number of serious illnesses such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. As we get older, it’s normal to experience changes in our sleeping pattern.We wake up or become sleepy earlier. It’s normal for senior people to need a little less sleep or to wake up during the night. However, if restless nights are causing them problems during the day and they wake up tired, then check out the common causes of insomnia and tips how to overcome sleep disorders for older adults.

Most common causes of insomnia and sleep problems in elderly people

In order to treat a sleep disorder, you have to know what causes it. Pain and illness are among the major causes of sleep disturbance. Medical conditions such as pain, a frequent need to urinate, asthma, arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis can cause a sleep disorder. In these cases, the best thing is to talk to your doctor about the issue. Another important reason could be medications, as elderly people tend to take a lot of medications and these can seriously affect their sleep pattern.

Alternatively, poor sleep habits and a bad environment could be to blame. Maybe they consume alcohol before they go to sleep, they have irregular sleep hours or they simply leave the TV on. All these can lead to the development of a sleep disorder. Another important factor that can cause sleep disorder is stress. Common stressful situations for elderly people are the death of a family member or moving from home. Lack of exercise and leading a sedentary life can also cause sleeping problems. Finally, a lack of sunlight can also affect our sleeping pattern. Sunlight helps regulate sleep-wake cycles and melatonin, which promotes sleep.


How to sleep better at night?

Having a good sleep pattern is especially important to elderly people as it improves concentration and memory, repairs cell damage and boosts their immune system, but often they have sleep problems. Fortunately, some simple changes could be done to encourage better sleep at night. First of all, the bedroom should be quiet, dark and cool, and the bed comfortable. If they live at a nursing home, make sure that their aged care home is flexible when it comes to personal decoration of their rooms. Elderly people are more sensitive to light and noises so it is important to block them out. The bedroom should be used only for sleeping. There shouldn’t be a TV in the bedroom but if there is, turn it off at least one hour before bed. Artificial light can impair sleep so reading from a backlit device before bed is not advisable. They should also maintain a consistent sleep schedule, which means that they go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. The two most important daytime habits that can affect sleep are diet and exercise. It is especially important what they put in their bodies before bedtime. Caffeine and alcohol should be avoided late in the day as they impair sleep. Food rich in sugar, such as white bread, rice and pasta consumed before bedtime can be associated with poor sleep quality. Instead of that, they should have a bedtime snack with magnesium and potassium. Many fruits contain these minerals, which promote sleep by relaxing and calming the body. Furthermore, exercise, especially aerobics, regulates sleep pattern by releasing chemicals, which promotes better sleep. Apart from aerobics, there are other activities such as swimming, cycling or dancing, which can help them prepare for a good night’s sleep.

Restful sleep is important to everyone, but especially to older adults, because it restores their memory and it prevents serious health problems such as depression, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and many more. Elderly people are more prone to sleep disorders but fortunately, there are some changes such as improving the sleep environment, choosing healthy food and exercising regularly, which can help improve sleep quality. Since everyone is different, they should choose and find the specific changes, which work best for them.

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