As we age, our sleeping habits and patterns of rest often change. While it is normal for seniors to experience more disrupted sleep, this can still be a cause for concern, especially as the lack of proper rest leads to fatigue and other health problems. It is important to understand the changes in sleep that come with aging so that you may better help an elderly loved one get enough rest in 2023.
Changes in Sleep as We Age
As we age, it is common to experience changes in sleep patterns and quality. This can include anything from difficulty falling asleep to waking up more frequently during the night. Seniors are also likely to take longer to fall asleep initially and need more time for naps during the day.
These shifts in sleeping habits can be due to several factors that may create an unfavorable environment for restful sleep: lower melatonin levels, medication side effects, health concerns such as arthritis pain or heartburn that make lying down uncomfortable, pre-existing sleeping disorders like insomnia, and more.
The Effects of Poor Sleep
Poor sleep can take a serious toll on the body and mind of a senior. Not only will lack of adequate rest lead to one feeling tired, but it can also cause anxiety, confusion, irritability, and even depression. Additionally, poor-quality sleep is often linked with more serious health issues like heart disease and stroke. Inadequate sleep can also lead to decreased immunity, which may increase the odds that seniors will catch a variety of illnesses.
Helping an Elderly Loved One Get Adequate Rest in 2023
When it comes to helping an elderly loved one get enough rest, there are a few key strategies you can put into place in order to create the best environment for sleep in 2023.
Understand Circadian Rhythms
To support healthy sleep habits, try making sure your relative is exposed to natural light during the day and that they have consistent bedtimes throughout the week.
Pay Attention to Diet
Helping ensure proper nutrition may also help promote better sleep. Provide balanced meals as well as snacks with a mix of complex carbohydrates and proteins, but make sure that the meals are not too big or served too close to bedtime.
Introduce Exercise and Physical Activity
Per the approval or advice of their doctor, encourage gentle exercise such as walking or swimming, which can help make it easier to fall asleep at night. Keep in mind that these activities should not be performed too close to bedtime since those endorphins may help keep seniors awake.
Try avoiding caffeine late in the afternoon or evening hours, but note that it may take some experimentation to figure out the best time to stop caffeine consumption for the day.
Establish Bedtime Rituals
Incorporating relaxing activities like reading or listening to calming music into an evening routine may help signal that it is time for your relative's body to prepare itself for sleep. Consider setting the bedroom temperature to the ideal one or try other measures that can help prepare for rest.
Get Professional Help
Sometimes, a doctor's assistance may be required for a senior loved one to get adequate sleep at night. Encourage your senior loved one to ask for that professional help if needed.
Get Help Caring for a Senior Loved One During the Day or at Night
Sometimes, as seniors struggle to sleep, they may have other problems that require a higher level of care at night. Senior Helpers Sun City can provide care either overnight or during the day for seniors in the Ruskin, Wimauma, Apollo Beach, Sun City Center, Riverview, and Gibsonton areas. Contact us today to learn more about our care services and their benefits.