The Importance of Quality Sleep for SeniorsMarch 14, 2023
Sleep is an interesting bodily function to scientists. While there is still much we don’t know about why sleep is so important, scientists do know that it has an impact on all of our bodily functions. The importance of quality sleep for seniors can’t be understated, but many older adults struggle to achieve that.
Seniors are less likely to fall into a deep sleep, which causes them to wake more easily, due to a myriad of reasons. Seniors must make an effort to get a good night’s sleep every night. From your heart, to your metabolism, to your brain function, getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to your overall health.
What are the benefits of a good night’s sleep?
Sleep does more than give you a few hours to recover from the stress of the day. A good night—or bad night’s—sleep will set the course for your day, and even your week. When you regularly get quality sleep, you will see vast improvements in your overall well-being.
A boost in your mood
Sleep quality and mental health are closely related. Poor sleep can lead to emotional problems and a foggy head, which can cause conditions such as depression, anxiety, and stress. A regular seven to nine hours of sleep a night does wonders for mood regulation.
Improved memory and concentration
You have surely noticed how, when you get a poor night’s sleep, your attention span is shorter and your recall isn’t as strong. This happens from time to time, but too much poor sleep is associated with long-term memory and decision-making problems. Some research even shows that poor sleep throughout one’s life is a risk factor for dementia.
Fight off memory loss by regularly doing your best to get a good night’s sleep every night. With quality sleep will come better memory retention, as well as better concentration on your daily tasks.
Lower risk of disease
When you don’t sleep well, you are putting undue stress on your body. This raises your risk of conditions such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and even a weakened immune system. Sleep gives your body the chance to restore muscles, repair tissues, and even assist with neural connections. All of this is shown to raise your immune system.
Quality sleep is also shown to reduce your risk of obesity. Researchers don’t have a clear answer as to why sleep and obesity rates are correlated, but there are a few hypotheses.
- Those who are sleep deprived have irregular levels of the neurotransmitters that impact appetite
- Sleep-deprived individuals are more likely to crave foods high in carbohydrates, sugar, and calories
- Poor sleep can be associated with metabolic dysregulation
Regardless of what the reason is, quality sleep helps adults maintain a healthy weight. A healthy weight is important to your overall physical health and quality of life as a result.
Why seniors are more likely to have sleep problems?
According to the CDC, 35% of adults get less than seven hours of sleep a night. There are a variety of reasons why someone might struggle to get enough sleep.
- Illness and pain. Certain health conditions that make you feel ill or result in pain might keep you up at night. Your doctor may be able to help you find an option for maintaining your condition.
- Medication. Some medications stimulate you to stay awake and can make it hard to fall asleep.
- Mental health struggles. As you age, you may find you struggle with mental health more. The loss of a loved one and subsequent grief or depression can impact your ability to sleep. The same goes for seniors who experience a spike in anxiety, which is very common.
- Too much downtime in the day. Now that you’re retired, you’re eager to relax. However, too much time spent idle can make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Make sure you are staying active throughout the day for better sleep.
- Sleep disorders. Problems like insomnia, snoring, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and more can keep you up or wake you in the middle of the night. See your doctor if you suspect you suffer from one of these conditions so they can develop an avenue of treatment.
How to get quality sleep for seniors
The importance of quality sleep for seniors is crucial to recognize, and lifestyle changes are the best way to improve it each night. It may take some trial and error to determine what routine works best for you, but it will be worth it once you see an improvement in your mental and physical health. These tips are a great place to start.
Follow a regular schedule and bedtime routine
Oftentimes, upon retiring, many seniors lose their routine. Some nights you may go to bed early, while others you might not go to bed until late into the night. This can lead to sleep issues. While a strict daily schedule isn’t necessary, keeping certain details the same—like waking up at the same time and exercising a certain amount—will help set your internal clock.
A bedtime routine will also help your body recognize when it is time to start winding down. For about an hour before bed, transition into sleep by following a set schedule. One example could be taking a shower, brushing your teeth, writing in your planner, and then reading before bed.
Try to keep electronics out of the bedroom
Computers, televisions, tablets, and cell phones emanate something called “blue light,” which boosts alertness. Stop using your electronics at least half an hour before bed, otherwise, you may be too engaged to sleep. Keeping them out of the bedroom (except for perhaps your cell phone) will eliminate the temptation to use them.
On the occasion you need a 30-minute nap, allow yourself that time. Much more than that, however, may impact your ability to sleep at night. Instead of taking a long nap in the middle of the day, try to hold off and perhaps go to bed slightly earlier.
Care in the comfort of your home
Aging in place is ideal for most seniors, but it can be difficult to manage. If you struggle with personal care, meal preparation, running errands, or other activities of daily living, consider getting the help of an at-home caregiver.
For more information on what a caregiver can do for you, call us at 773-274-9262.
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