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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Tips to Ensure Quality Sleep in Seniors


Do you have a hard time falling asleep? Do you experience an erratic sleep cycle or notice symptoms of sleep disorders? Do you still feel tired even after hours of sleep?

Experts say that sleep patterns change as a person ages. It's common for doctors to hear seniors complain about sleep disorders like insomnia or sleep apnea, which are usually influenced by the following factors:

  • Seniors produce lower levels of a hormone called melatonin that functions to regulate the sleep cycle.
  • Seniors experience different medical and psychological issues, including chronic diseases, that interrupt sleep and rest.
  • Physiologic changes brought on by aging may lead to aches and discomforts in different parts of the body that can disturb their sleep.
  • Seniors often take various medications that cause sleep disruptions.
  • Due to old habits, some seniors continue to live an unhealthy lifestyle and have poor sleeping routines.

Some might dismiss poor sleep as a normal part of aging. However, this belief is actually a myth. Barring the factors that might cause sleep problems, your body still needs the same consistent hours of quality sleep whether you’re 30 years old or 60.

Importance of a Good Sleep

Like eating a balanced diet and doing regular exercise, getting quality sleep also helps to keep your body in optimum health. If you’re well-rested:
  • You have a better mood and disposition.
  • You have a sharper mind.
  • Your body produces more hormones that help with tissues repair.
  • You feel energized.
  • You increase your immune system.
  • You alleviate stress.

Sleep Quantity vs. Sleep Quality

Experts determined that the recommended hours of sleep for adults, including those above 65 years old, is between 7 to 9 hours, while the appropriate hours of sleep are at least six hours. However, sleep quantity is not nearly as important as the sleep quality.

To evaluate your sleep quality, determine how many of these situations below apply to you. If you agree to more than one, then you’ll need to make changes to improve the quality of your sleep.

  • Do you stay a long time in bed at night tossing, turning, and hoping you can fall asleep faster?
  • Do you need sleeping pills to fall asleep?
  • Do you find yourself waking up more than once in the middle of the night?
  • Do you need caffeine or sugar to wake you up or stay alert during the day?
  • Do you take long naps during the day?

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Follow a sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time in the morning as well. Do this daily, including the weekends or even if you’re on vacation.

Get comfortable. If body pains keep you up at night, you need to do something to manage the condition. For back pain, you might need to apply a cold pack or a hot compress in order to numb the pain. For foot pain caused by plantar fasciitis, alleviate the pain by wearing night splints with adjustable straps for proper splinting and support. For neck pain, consider using a soft pillow with just the right height.

Have a bedtime routine. A warm soak in the tub or a good book to read helps the body relax before bedtime. Develop a routine to prepare your body for rest each night.

Ditch the gadgets. If you use a computer or cell phone or if you like watching TV in bed, then perhaps it’s time to ditch these a couple of hours before your bedtime. It has been shown that artificial light coming from these sources can affect sleep and induce sleep disorders.

Make the bedroom conducive to sleeping.
Keep an ideal bedroom temperature and adjust the air conditioning, fan or thermostat before you settle in bed. Choose low lighting coming from a table lamp when you’re set up for bedtime. Use earplugs, if needed, to drown external noise.

Watch what you eat or drink.
Eating large servings during dinner time can keep you awake at night, especially if you have gastric issues or diabetes. Stay away from caffeine and alcohol before bedtime as well.

If you have been suffering from a lifestyle disease, you should also consider:

  • Asking your doctor to change your medication if it’s causing you discomfort and sleepless nights.
  • Seeking other methods, such as breathing techniques, meditation, yoga or acupuncture, to help with anxiety or pain.

Discuss your sleep issues on your next regular visit to your doctor. You might be asked to undergo additional tests to determine if there are specific health issues that need to be addressed in order to solve your sleep problems.

This is a guest blog entry.

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