Sleep patterns can significantly change as we get older, making insomnia a problem for elder adults. These changes may cause elders to be alert and wide awake at night, while being sleepy throughout the day. It is too easy to blame insomnia on aging, but it does not have to be a part of getting older. Getting enough sleep each night is just as important as a healthy diet and physical activity.
Sleep gives the body a chance to repair any damaged cells that occurred throughout the day and will keep the immune system strong, preventing illnesses or diseases from developing. But when there is a lack of deep sleep, the immune system becomes weaker, it becomes more difficult to concentrate and focus, and those damaged cells do not have the chance to get repaired. Not only is the senior’s physical health affected, but so is their mental health. According to Help Guide, seniors who do not sleep enough are more susceptible to memory problems, depression, and increased tiredness during the day.
With the help of an elder care professional, these 5 tips should help your loved one get the rest their body and mind needs at night.
- Pinpoint the cause. There could be an underlying cause to your loved one’s sleepiness. Are they suffering from depression? Are they stressed? Is something causing them to worry or become anxious? Talk to your loved one to find out what is on their mind and if it could be causing their sleepless nights.
- Look at their medications. Insomnia is a side effect of some medications. Talk to the elder’s doctor or pharmacist to determine if it could be the problem and if there are any alternative prescriptions that does not cause insomnia.
- Create a sleep schedule. The elderly care aid or a family member can create a sleep schedule, but it is important they stick to it. This schedule should include a wakeup time and a bedtime. There should also be some time before bedtime in order to help the elder relax. This time could include a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to relaxing music. Whatever helps your loved one relax should be included in this pre-bedtime ritual.
- Increase physical activity. Exercising in the morning can help get the senior’s body fatigued by the time they should be going to sleep. They should avoid exercising before bedtime as this may make it more difficult for the elder to fall asleep.
- Learn to relax. When stress hits, knowing how to relax should help the elder sleep better at night. These techniques may include deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or writing down their worries in a journal.
Insomnia can cause physical and emotional problems for the senior. Try these 5 tips in order to reduce their chances of becoming awake at night and tired during the day.