March is sleep awareness month:
Sleep deprivation and other sleep issues can impact senior health significantly. Learn how to improve sleep pattern for seniors to maintain and improve their overall health.
A healthy sleeping pattern includes 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep each night. There are a variety of sleep-related issues that negatively impact the amount of sleep seniors actually get. We need to be informed on what can be done to help seniors establish health sleeping patterns.
How Aging Affects Sleep
Unfortunately, changes in sleep patterns are a normal part of aging. Many seniors have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. In some cases, the challenge is due to a sleeping disorder or the side effect of a medication.
However, sleep disturbance in the aging is often just the result of reduced REM sleep. In other words, seniors tend to be lighter sleepers. They wake up more often due to noise, aches, movement, the need to use the bathroom, etc. (The Sleep Foundation)
Sleeping Tips for the Aging
- Be Mindful – Stress, worry, and negative thought patterns can
disrupt sleep—even if seniors try to “think positively”
right before bed. Since sleep deprivation affects
mental health and vice versa, it is important to
encourage seniors to develop a healthy response to
stress at all hours.
- Exercise Regularly – Physical activity can help the body sleep. Regular
exercise also offers health benefits that positively
impact sleep, like lower blood pressure, stress relief,
and improved breathing.
- Form a Bedtime Routine – Many habits can influence sleep for better or for
worse. Lying in bed during the day can disrupt sleep
patterns. Watching television or screen time on the
phone at night can also delay sleep. Encourage
seniors to establish a bedtime routine that includes
doing something quiet and relaxing for an hour.
- Eat and Drink for Better Sleep – Sometimes seniors drink alcohol before bed because
it makes them sleepy. However, alcohol tends to wake
people up in the middle of the night and reduce REM
sleep cycles. Food does the same. Seniors should
avoid eating food or drinking alcohol for 2-3 hours