Sleep disturbances are a common concern for your senior loved one. Whether it is due to insomnia, difficulty falling asleep, waking up often during the night, or difficulty in maintaining sleep throughout the night, they can all have adverse effects on quality of life. You need to pay more attention to making sure your senior loved one is getting enough restful sleep daily.
Causes of Sleep Disturbances in Seniors
Physical conditions such as arthritis, respiratory illnesses, chronic pain, and Parkinson's disease are common physical conditions that could lead to sleep disturbances in your senior loved one. Mental health concerns such as anxiety or depression can also disrupt healthy sleep habits or cause insomnia.
Certain medications used for treating any of these conditions may also affect sleeping patterns negatively. A noisy and uncomfortable environment could contribute to poor quality of sleep for your senior loved one as well.
Impact of Poor Sleep on Seniors
Sleep deprivation has many adverse effects, the most common ones being fatigue and loss of concentration. This can make it difficult for your senior loved one to perform even the simplest daily tasks and further aggravate any existing physical condition. Poor sleep also increases their risk of falls or accidents due to lack of alertness, making them more vulnerable as they age.
Ways to Improve Sleep Quality
Luckily, some lifestyle changes can help to improve the sleep quality of your senior loved one.
Regular physical activity helps to improve sleep in many ways. It reduces stress, releases endorphins that help to relax the body, and tires out the muscles, making them primed for restful sleep. Exercise also increases blood circulation and improves digestion, both of which are important factors for the proper quality of sleep for your senior loved one. Talk to your senior loved one’s doctor for advice and recommendations.
A healthy diet containing adequate carbohydrates is vital for the overall well-being of your senior loved one. Carbohydrates are an important source of energy throughout the day, but eating too close to bedtime could either make it difficult for them to fall asleep or wake them up during the night. Eating small meals during the day and reducing spicy, heavy foods can help keep your senior parent's digestive processes from interfering with sleep time.
Having a routine for the evenings helps to signal to the body that sleep is approaching. This can include turning off electronics an hour or two before bedtime, reading something light, taking a warm bath, and limiting caffeine after lunch. These can all help prepare your senior loved one's body for sleep.
You should make sure to keep your senior loved one's bedrooms comfortable. This includes setting the room's temperature such that it’s not too hot or too cold, installing blackout curtains that can block out any external light, and providing comfortable clothing for them to sleep in.
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