It’s common enough to hear that a good night’s rest is important to staying healthy. But what does that really mean? How can we ensure we get a sound sleep, and what are the consequences of not doing so? If seniors experience regular disruptions in sleep, it is important to find the cause or causes and address them.
Medications, diseases such as Alzheimer’s, and other health issues can prevent a senior from getting the sleep they need. Here’s a look at why sleep is so important, what interrupts it, and how to deal with the problem.
It’s a normal part of aging for sleep patterns to change. Why circadian rhythms (sleep patterns) change is not completely understood, although studies have shown that light exposure and certain medications may be a factor. No matter the exact cause, it is known that sleep disorders can cause an increased risk in mortality, as well as leading to dementia and cognitive impairment. Alzheimer’s disease itself can change sleep patterns. Stress is also a factor, not only in sleep disorders, but in causing dementia.
One thing is for sure: ensuring that the sleeping environment is in the best shape it can be will help a senior go to sleep and stay asleep. A sleep environment which is quiet, and as dark as possible, is the most conducive to a good night’s sleep. This means turning off the TV, instead of falling asleep in front of it. Avoid eating too much before going to bed. Avoid alcohol before bedtime. Having a drink or a full meal too soon before sleeping can cause heartburn, and make relaxation a challenge.
A senior who doesn’t move around enough can also have trouble sleeping, which is why it’s so important to get at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. That may sound like a lot, but it’s actually just over 20 minutes of movement per day. It doesn’t have to be anything crazy, walking is enough!
A senior who exhibits mood swings, memory loss, or confusion may be suffering from a sleep disorder. One easy way to discover if there is something seriously wrong, and how to treat it, is to see a doctor to discuss what medications may be interfering. The senior may need to develop daytime routines that include some sort of exercise and healthy eating patterns.
A good night’s sleep is good for a clear head during the day, as well as increased But don’t forget, it’s not about the day-to-day, it’s about the long-term, and avoiding serious cognitive issues.