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Senior Care: What Are 13 Ways to Solve Sleep Issues?

Aug 14, 2018 by Stephanie Howe - Owner, Comfort Keepers

Are you a senior or know of senior who seems that they can’t get a good night’s sleep anymore? Are you or someone you know tossing and turning in their sleep? Well, you don’t have to accept the lack of sleep as a part of aging. There are many benefits from having a good night’s rest such as reduced stress, improved memory, quicker reaction time, and many more benefits for both mental and physical health. To help with sleeping more soundly, we have listed experts tips to integrate into your lifestyle to getting back on track.


Understand your sleep needs

As you begin to age, your sleep patterns start to shift as well. Although according to Michael V. Vitiello, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington, says these changes “are not profound.” One way of understanding your sleep needs is to be aware of circadian rhythms --this is a cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep, rise, eat—to regulate many physiological processes. From 18- to 81-years-old, the average amount of sleep one gets shrinks by about 1 or 1.5 hours -- seven hours of sleep is the standard for most adults.


Should I check in with my doctor about snoring habits?

A common misperception is that as you get older, your sleep worsens --sleeping conditions may change but don't have to affect your sleep negatively. A common condition as you age is snoring. Snoring doesn’t necessarily mean that there is an issue, but it’s worth checking in with a doctor about senior care and sleeping habits. Your sleeping habits may change, but there’s a silver lining for sleep-challenged seniors. Seniors can tolerate sleep deprivation better than those who are younger. A 70-year-old can handle a lack of sleep better than a 20-year-old.


Is my lifestyle affecting my sleeping habits?

As you age, your body, habits, and lifestyle change as well. To keep balance with your sleep, you will need to maintain balance with other aspects of your life. One way to keep balance can be by eating sensibly. Reducing your caffeine intake and confining drink caffeine in the morning rather than later in the afternoon. Otherwise, the afternoon boost of alertness you’re looking for can have later effect when you are trying to sleep. Another way to keep balance is by maintaining a healthy weight by exercising daily. The daily exercise will not only help to support weight but also allow for the vigorous use of energy allowing for better sleep.  


Does alcohol affect sleep?

When you’re having trouble falling asleep, having a glass of wine or beer may seem like a good idea, right? However, instead of alcohol helping you sleep, it tends to increase insomnia instead. Drinking alcohol before bed can be counterproductive when you’re trying to have a good night’s rest. So drinking in healthy moderation is better for both your sleep and overall health as you age.


Are you sleeping upright?

It’s perfectly fine to doze off while stretched out in your La-Z-boy chair but is this the only comfortable way you can sleep? If you are required a recliner or being upright in a chair to rest, this could be a sign of some medical conditions you may have. Getting evaluated and treated for any medical conditions will improve your sleep, so take the steps and ask your doctor.


Can my mental health change sleeping habits?

Reflecting on how you sleep and mental health can help to solve the broader issues you or your loved one may experience. When an older adult who is isolated, perhaps recently widowed or grieving, may be at higher risk of depression. Dealing with depression can be hard, but you don’t have to deal with it alone. There are health care services and elder care services that supply solutions such as therapy, activities, etc. to help with coping with depression. Just as you shouldn’t accept poor sleep as a regular part of becoming older, the same holds true for depression.


How can I create healthy bedroom habits?

When establishing healthy bedroom habits, you should keep in mind that your bedroom is an environment where can sleep without any distractions surrounding you. That means no reading, watching television or checking email while laying in bed. Create a technology and distraction-free bedroom to establish a more comfortable sleeping environment.


Does a clutter-free bed mean better sleep?

Creating an environment that is clutter and distraction free is key to sleeping better. By taking out the noise and distractions this it allows you to be more at ease when getting ready to go to bed. While having a clutter-free room establishes better sleeping habits it also prevents falls.


Why is getting out of bed when I wake up important?

Getting out of bed once you wake up in the morning can help to have a better sleep later that night. Forcing yourself to get out of bed, you establish a routine that your body will recognize in creating healthy habits. By lying awake in bed and not getting up right away can create an unhealthy habit that will confuse your body --leading to lack of sleep for yourself.


Should I seek out professional help?

If you are unsure of why you are having trouble sleeping you should seek out professional advice to resolve this problem. Whether it's a sleep center, or a psychologist, or your medical doctor they will assess your sleeping issues and create an approach that fits you and your needs. There are also interactive online programs that allow you to participate in therapy. Don’t do this on your own, seek out help.


Can treatments for medical conditions affect my sleep?

Older adults with co-existing conditions and are receiving treatments that have side effects may be contributing to their lack of sleep. If you are managing a condition or receiving treatments, ask your doctor or pharmacist if your prescribed medications may have sleep-related side effects. If so, switching to different medications or the amount prescribed may help resolve sleep-related issues.


How can I relieve restless legs?

Have you ever experienced while you're laying down that your legs seem that they can't stay still? Well, you may have restless leg syndrome, which can be commonly found amongst middle-aged or older adults. Some treatment options suggested for adults with restless leg syndrome includes cutting tobacco and alcohol out, taking warm baths before bed, and applying heating pads or foot wrap devices before bed.


Drop the sleeping pills, add more sun

If you choose to try prescription sleeping pills such as Ambien or Lunesta, or over-the-counter drugs such as Benadryl, be cautious of side effects. If possible, use your sleeping pills for short-term use rather than long-term use. For a natural remedy for better sleep, try to have 30 minutes to an hour of daily sunlight to have a more restful sleep.



How can Comfort Keepers help?

Comfort Keepers can help to assistant with senior care revolving around issues of sleeping habits. The services that Comfort Keepers provide such as in-home care solutions can assist seniors struggling with sleeping habits. Comfort Keepers home care aids can assist with any task. Comfort Keepers offers clients companionship, for instance through conversation or when they sit down to share a meal. With many aspects of health, social contact such as this is proven to enhance seniors’ health, happiness, and quality of life.


If you have any questions about In-Home Care Solutions or want to speak to someone about your home care medical options at Comfort Keepers give us a call at (732) 557-0010 or contact us online to set up a consultation.


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