Sleep patterns can change as adults age. Seniors may wake up earlier and go to bed earlier than they used to. Sleep may feel more fragmented and seniors may not sleep as deeply as they used to.
Chemicals and hormones in the body that change with age are responsible for some of the differences, however, there are other things that can affect a senior’s sleep as well. Certain medications and medical conditions, too, can contribute to sleep disruptions. Pain, diabetes, prostate problems, sleep apnea, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease are among the common medical culprits that can interrupt sleep. Lifestyle habits such as smoking, drinking, and caffeine can play a part too.
When Sleep Changes Become a Problem
If a senior awakens still feeling tired, or wakes up in the night and is unable to get back to sleep it is a problem. Other sleep problems include difficulty falling asleep, or staying asleep.
Lifestyle Changes can Promote Healthy Sleep
Making changes to sleep-disturbing habits, of course, can make a difference. Avoid caffeine, especially in the eight hours before bed. Caffeine can be found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and many sodas. Avoid nicotine and alcohol. There are other lifestyle changes that can also help a senior sleep more soundly at night.
- Get up and go to bed consistently at the same time
- Get sunshine and physical activity every day. Aerobic exercise is especially effective for better sleep.
- Keep naps between 5-45 minutes and avoid naps in the afternoon and evening. Go to bed earlier if needed.
- Develop a relaxing bedtime routine.
- Have a light snack a little bit before bedtime.
- Lower the lights around the house and avoid electronics for an hour before bed.
- Don’t read or watch television in bed.
- Keep the bedroom quiet, dark, and cool to promote quality sleep.
- Don’t lie awake in bed for long. If you can’t sleep, get up and go to a different room for a bit and then go back to bed. Avoid television or other screens.
Senior Care can Help Support Healthy Sleep
There are many ways professional senior care aides can help support a senior’s healthy, sleep-promoting lifestyle. Senior care is tailored to each individual’s needs, preferences, and situation so it will look different for everyone. Some examples of helpful interventions might include:
- The senior care aide arrives early in the morning to help the senior wake up at a consistent time and go for a walk outdoors before breakfast.
- The senior care aide drives the senior to the pool for a stress-relieving swim and some socialization.
- The senior care aide arrives ninety minutes before bedtime to fix a small snack with chamomile tea. While the senior is enjoying the snack, the aide reduces the lighting throughout the house. Next, the aide helps the senior with a lavender-infused bath. Once in bed, the aide applies lotion to the senior’s legs and feet. It feels like a relaxing massage and the senior is ready for a good night’s sleep.
Have a Good Night’s Sleep
Changes in sleep shouldn’t mean that the senior is perpetually tired. If lifestyle changes don’t help, talk to the doctor. Keeping a sleep diary can be helpful for identifying patterns and sharing relevant information with the doctor.
If you, or an aging loved-one, are considering hiring Home Health Care in Rancho Santa Fe, CA, or the Surrounding San Diego Area, please contact the caring staff at GoldenCare today. Call us at 760-828-5201.
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