Just like any fellow human being, you want and need a good night’s rest. If you are getting enough sleep it will help you stay healthy and more alert. Many older people don’t sleep well and it is affecting their life.
Lack of sleep can be immediately noticed at its early stage; such as having a grumpy feeling, not being active or productive at one’s best. We need to be aware of the endangering effect of not having a regular or consistent sleep on the state of one’s physical health. In some cases on a persons actual happiness.
In this article first we will discuss the main reasons of why seniors are loosing sleep. Then we will go little more in detail of other reasons found to affect or alter regular sleep patterns at the elderly. We will finish this article with 8 tips that you can practice imminently to get a better sleep.
The main reasons of loosing good night sleep for seniors.
Several reasons are found to be the cause of the growing rate of people losing sleep. It has been said that one in four Americans develop sleep irregularities each year. The factors found to be the common cause of this sleep challenge are; compounding stress from day to day activities, taking homework that should have been left in the office, spending too much time on the computer, etc. This may not be the case for seniors. This page would discuss some of the major causes of sleep irregularities for seniors.
Now, going one, two or three nights without regular or adequate hours of sleep would cost you more than just concentration power but also slide you into a bad mood.
Being deprived of sleep could –in short, or long term –result in some health damages. Some of which are –but not limited to –heart attack, heart disease, irregular heartbeat, heart failure, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, obesity, etc. The long and short term effects of irregular or lack of sleep are true.
Alternative reasons found to affect or alter regular sleep patterns.
Below we look more deeply into the alternative reasons found to affect or alter the regular sleep patterns at elderly people.
Change in life and regular sleep
Menopause sometimes affects regular sleep. The hot flashes and other symptoms just can hurt your sleep.
Health issues or challenges can affect sleep at elderly.
Health issues or challenges such as heartburn, breathing problems, general anxiety (which is usually fueled by apprehension, worry, uneasiness, especially when they are intense or out of order during the time of trouble or danger.)
Financial stress is also affecting elderly not to get enough sleep.
The state of one’s finances – particularly when they are not meeting one’s needs and paying the bills –may keep your heart disturbed. And this if not properly managed may keep you up at night. A less burdened heart would drop the mind into a deep sleep within minutes of laying on the bed.
Drugs and their sleep effect on the senior population.
Coincidentally prescription medication is sometimes found to get in the way of or perform its role and fulfill its purpose at the detriment of your ability to sleep.
Depression and anxiety are one of the alternative reasons of why the seniors are not getting enough rest.
A feeling of refusal, sadness, worthlessness. To be upset, down and sad; a feeling of rejection, hopelessness, and fear. All this when not check over a long time could damage both your emotions and your mental health. Sleep disturbance is included among the primary symptoms of depression.
What about uncontrolled sedentary lifestyle?
Going days without any form of physical activity or exercise would overtime begin to eat up your sleep. Sitting or lying or being in a relaxed mood for long hours watching television, reading or playing video games can hurt your capacity to fall into a deep sleep at night.
Loneliness or being in a state of grief
Lack of sleep or sleep irregularities could be born out of emotional imbalance such as grieving over the loss of something dear or suffering from loneliness. Things that pull on our emotional health and may keep you awake at night.
Inconsistent or irregular sleep means your body is being reduced of some quality of sleep which in turn – if not checked – would birth ‘sleep deprivation’ a condition that showcases chronic lack of sleep. Sleep requirements for a healthy or optimal lifestyle indeed vary from individual to individual but on the average most healthy adults would need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night to be able to perform optimally or be at their best.
Consequences of not getting enough sleep as you grow old.
Sleep deprivation can drain you of your mental abilities and strength. It can also endanger your physical health. Scientific studies over time have closely linked inadequate sleep with all manner of health problems and challenges. It is interesting to know that sleep deprivation has a link to weight gain and a battered immune system.
The importance of sleep to our health; mental, emotional, and physical forms part of the basis for our existentialism. Sleep is synonymous with a refresh button. A lot of beneficial activities occur during sleep such as healing of vital cells and restoration of chemical imbalances. It would avail your brain the opportunity to establish a new connection within its cell-system and help with memory retention.
Suffice it to say that without adequate sleep, your brain and other parts of your body systems won’t function or operate at ‘optimal capacity’. An uncontrolled situation regarding consistent lack of sleep would ultimately reduce the quality of life enjoyed at old age.
It may amaze you to find that there are studies on this matter whose results have established and put a link between sleep deprivation or sleeping too little in the night with a high chance of dropping death unexpectedly.
It becomes more dangerous when you now have to rely on stimulants such as energizers, caffeine, etc. to jack you up to a high-performance level at which you are then able to function at your best. The consequence, however, is that daily dependent on stimulants would further damage your capacity to fall into a deep sleep and scarier though is that the user is at risk of being addicted. Don’t get a stimulant to do for you what your body through its natural activity –for instance, sleep –would do or bring you into.
Instead of harmful stimulants it might be time to think about natural scents that are relaxing.
Unknown to victims, uncontrolled sleep irregularities or chronic sleep deprivation could disrupt the flow of your body’s internal systems. The central nervous system is the information bank/pipe in the body.
Adequate sleep is germane to ensuring it functions efficiently and properly. Sleep deprivation could slow down how your body sends information. We know that during sleep new cells are formed in the brain which helps you to remember newly acquired information. Lack of adequate sleep would set the brain into an override and ultimately gets it exhausted. When this happens, the nervous system would not be able to perform its duties so well.
Stress and Insomnia and their effect on the older population.
A stressed brain cannot function optimally, at this point one’s concentration level begins to be affected so that learning of new things becomes more difficult. Transferring of information within the nervous system may become draggy –meaning delayed. This situation would lead to one gradually lacking coordination and sensitivity, putting you at a greater risk for domestic –in other cases –fatal accidents.
Sleep irregularities –if not managed –would harm your mental capabilities/abilities. Little time, your ability to be creative or think outside the box to proffer solution to day to day issues would be affected and your decision-making process is already compromised.
Insomnia has a way of affecting your emotional state. Victims may start to feel very impatient about things that naturally shouldn’t cause them to lose their cool. So, you begin to experience mood swings.
Also, if this situation continues unchecked, it’s only a matter of time before the victim begins to have hallucinations –lost in the world of imagination by seeing things that weren’t in the place of contact or hearing things that no one is saying. The danger of sleep deprivation is more prevalent in its psychological effects and impacts. People suffering from bipolar disorder are at risk of having maniac triggering due to chronic insomnia.
Why a good night sleep is important for seniors.
Good sleep is necessary for our immune system. It is true that when we are asleep our immune system produces a form of protective or call it infection or disease-fighting hormones. Some of these substances are released by the immune system to attack and combat body invaders like viruses, bacteria, etc.
The irony, however, is that there is a need to have yourself fall asleep in other for your immune system to be able to produce certain substances such as Cytokines that in turn helps the body in many areas one of which is to get you to sleep. So, practically, you need to sleep to be able to produce more substances that’d help in all aspects of your life.
Now that you have enough information on the danger of Insomnia and why you need to pay attention to your sleep-life as seniors.
8 Tips on how to get better sleep for seniors
If you want to get a better sleep, your really should engage in certain activities to reduce stress levels.
Many things could shoot the stress level of an average senior up. Older people are indeed prone to having their stress level shot up by simply grieving or worrying over little change in their bedtime rest. In the beginning, irregular sleep may just be a temporal reaction to certain changes and should naturally return to normal with time. However, during this time uneasiness usually sets in and an average senior then start to worry about why s/he is having difficulty sleeping. Worry is one big major barrier to sound sleep, do all you can to get it off you, engage in activities such as yoga, visualization, meditation they help to reduce stress.
Below we share our 8 tips on how to get a better sleep for seniors.
1. Take a warm shower.
It has been said that sometimes a drop in body temperature may breeds tiredness, so warming up the body may help get you in a more relaxed state, and/or a bedtime mood. It is proven for seniors that a warm shower coupled with a good massage and a light body stretching exercise helps soothing symptoms.
2. Take out the sound, keep your bedroom as dark as possible and ensure a quiet atmosphere.
Darkness sends a signal to the brain that it is time to sleep. It is believed that the perfect condition for sleep-time is for the environment to appear cave-like as much as possible. Therefore, turn off all the lights, prevent light rays from penetrating through the windows by closing the blinds. A dark room offers less for the mind to worry about.
Sometimes having sound can help you sleep. Just make sure it covers loud external sounds and is relaxing.
3. Stick to a routine
Routines prepare the body to engage in an activity already designed for it at that particular time of the day. Follow a regular sleep plan/schedule. This would help your system to adjust in a particular way and flow in a particular direction as you’ve designed. Have a regular bedtime and avoid microsleeps during the day, can help you to sleep more at night.
4. Get the right mattress for you.
Different old citizens need different types of mattresses. The nice thing ab out many online ordering of mattresses lets you try them out for 30 -120 days. Why not find the one that works best for you.
5. Adjust your menu list and drink more during the day.
The food you eat plays a role in your sleep-life; it impacts your quality of sleep. To improve your sleep time, seniors are advised to completely bring down sugar intake, as a senior you definitely want to reduce consumption of fatty food and focus more healthy foods with sleep-enhancement ingredients such as nutrient-rich fruits, whole grains like oatmeal, which is rich in carbohydrate, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, etc. What to avoid before bedtime is anything that could cause a disorder within the digestive system such as spicy or greasy foods.
Too much chocolate and sweets.
Drink less before bedtime
If getting up in the night to urinate alter the flow of your sleep, it is advised that you do away with liquid at least 90 minutes before bed. Studies reveal that it takes about 90 minutes for the human system to process liquid intake. Having to get up to wee is one of the reasons seniors are left awakened at night. So, avoid loading your bladder with excessive liquid before bedtime and make it a routine to use the restroom before you lay on the bed.
6. Have a feel of the sun
Find a way to get outside in the sunlight, making it a daily routine that once the sun is out especially during summer you make every effort to find your way through the door and out there. It will help your body acclimatize to when it needs to be awake and when not.
Let your bedroom serve one purpose.
Make your bedroom a sleeping area only, if after staying awake for some minutes you cannot fall back asleep. Get off the bed into another room, only return when you feel tired again to use the bed. Train your system to see the bed as a place to get some sleep and nothing else. This would help to condition your brain and get it to perform that activity once you lay on the bed.
7. Turn off electronics
Before it would be time to turn off the light, do make sure you have disengaged yourself from electronics at least an hour before the time. If you like to read, you could pick up a book or listen to soft music –anything to make you calm. It is said that blue light in electronics could be disruptive to the brains in the process of it trying to fall asleep. It may interest you to learn that the brain system perceives this particular light as the suns rays, so they are pushed into assuming it is day time which consequently keeps us up and functioning instead of having us slide into a deep sleep.
8. Get some exercise in the day.
Exercise helps to wear the body, so find a way to exercise the body at intervals during the day but ensure to stop all forms of activities within three hours of bedtime.
Don’t fret during nighttime awakening.
Note that night time awakenings are to be expected at certain times, even if it would mean that this would happen despite having observed these tips. Don’t fret if seniors wake up in the course of the night, attempt to fall back to sleep but if this is not happening within 20 minutes, then get up, head to other room to get involved in some activities and return only when you feel tired again.
Should you see a doctor if you are sleep deprived?
After observing some of the tips advised in this write-up, you may want to see your doctor if sleep irregularities persist. To seniors lack of sleep may be born out of a fundamental disorder or problem, it could also result from side effects of medications or supplements.
Common causes of sleep irregularities for seniors are:
- Medication: Some pills/dozes may get you up at night, so it is important to make sure your doctor is aware of all the medication you are using. Your doctor is in the best position to guide you on how to proceed with the medications without causing a disruption.
- Medical/health conditions: Certain health issues make sleeping a challenge especially for seniors. Illnesses such as sleep apnea, arthritis, restless legs syndrome etc. Getting proper treatment may help you have some head ways.
- Change in life: Things are not going to always remain the same, the older you get the more likely you are going to experience certain transitions which may alter sleep patterns.
There is usually less to do during retirement especially as you grow much older. Inactivity during the day may impend on your ability to fall asleep at night. Therefore, do all you could to keep the body and mind engaged; anything to keep you active, volunteering, exercising, and even spending quality time with family and friends.