Sleep: Essential for Seniors | Home Care Assistance Sleep: Essential for Seniors | Home Care Assistance

Sleep: Essential for Seniors

– Kathy Johnson, PhD, CMC  Wednesay, April 29th, 2009

It’s a common misconception to think that seniors need less sleep than younger adults. Like younger people, older adults require seven to nine hours of sleep per night. At any age, sleep is essential to your physical health and emotional well-being. Seniors, however, are more prone to sleep disorders. In fact, one out of every two seniors suffers from sleep deprivation.

Aging itself doesn’t cause sleep deprivation. Rather, ailments associated with aging—such as arthritis, physical disabilities, respiratory problems and depression—are likely to blame. Seniors’ sleep cycles can also be disrupted by physical inactivity during the day, depression, anxiety and stress. Also, some prescription medicines taken by seniors may rob them of sleep.

Age old solutions for sleep loss

  • Staying active during the day. Seniors should maintain a moderate level of exercise or activity during daytime, especially outdoors. Studies show that people who get natural daylight sleep better at night.
  • Avoid consumption of caffeine and alcohol.
  • Consuming coffee, tea, chocolate, sodas or alcohol in the evening can interfere with nighttime sleep, especially in older people. Ending the ritual of a “night cap” will make the night more restful. Avoiding liquids before bedtime also reduces the need to use the bathroom at night.
  • Improve the sleeping environment.
  • Experts advise that a good sleep environment is one that is quiet, dark and on the cool side. Lumpy, sagging or worn mattresses may also be part of the problem.
  • Sleep separately from restless partners.
  • People who share a bed with partners who are restless, snore, or have an illness are likely to be sleep deprived. When necessary, moving to a separate room can help both partners sleep better at night.

Some causes of insomnia may be due to medications or due to depression or medical conditions that are treatable with medications. Therefore, if sleep problems persist, it pays to seek a doctor’s advice.

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