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Get the Best Good Night's Rest: Sleep Hygiene for Seniors




Our bodies begin to change in many way as we age and our sleep cycle is no different. When our sleep pattern begin to alter, it can affect us in various ways. Whether we begin to sleep much earlier than before, or we simply don’t receive enough restful sleep as we once did are ways in which our sleep cycles can begin to alter.


This is why it is important for seniors to know and understand what proper sleep hygiene looks like so that they can help mitigate the changes and difficulties of their shifting sleep cycles. Poor sleep hygiene in seniors can have negative effects on overall health and well-being, including risk of falls, depression, and cognitive decline.


However, there are steps we can take to help keep healthy sleep hygiene, and Christian Companions’ in-home care giving services can play a crucial role in helping seniors maintain good sleep habits.






Common Sleep Disorders in Seniors




Insomnia


Insomnia is a common sleep issue that has most likely affected each one of us at least once in our lives. It’s characterized by difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting into deep, restorative sleep for a sufficient amount of time.


Insomnia is a bit of an umbrella term and can have many different causes. Stress and anxiety or worry can make it difficult to get to bed and stay asleep. Some medical conditions such as chronic pain, respiratory disorders, GI issues, or neurological issues can also create bodily pain and discomfort that can interfere with a good night’s rest.




Sleep Apnea


Sleep Apnea is another disorder that greatly disrupts one’s ability to stay in deep sleep and causes countless instances of waking up in the middle of the night. It occurs when there are repeated pauses in one’s breathing while they slumber.


The pernicious thing about sleep apnea is that you might simply jostle awake ever so slightly that your body doesn’t fully register yourself as awake. As a consequence of this, you might wake in the morning thinking you’ve slept for a straight 8 hours when in fact your body was waking up every so often throughout the night. This can make for especially groggy mornings, and low energy throughout the day.






Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)


Restless Leg Syndrome is a condition in which the body feels an irresistible urge to move one or both of the legs. Symptoms are typically heightened at night and makes it more difficult to fall asleep.


While the exact cause of RLS is currently unknown, there are a few factors that we currently understand to either cause or increase the severity of RLS. Things from genetic factors, dopamine imbalances, iron deficiencies, and some medications have all been linked to RLS.


Periodic Limb Movement Disorder (PLMD)


Periodic Limb Movement Disorder is just as its name entails, it is the involuntary and repetitive movement of our limbs during sleep. These movements cause disruptions and arousals as we sleep and affect the quality of sleep we achieve.


Circadian Rhythm Disorders


Circadian Rhythm disorders result from the disruption or change in the body’s internal clock. These changes lead one to have shifting or alternating sleep-wake patterns and can cause sluggishness, among other things.


Advanced sleep phase disorder is one such circadian rhythm disorder in which an individual tends to go to sleep and wake up much earlier than what is considered typical for them. For example, someone with ASPD may feel sleepy and ready for bed as early as 6 p.m. and thus wake up very early in the morning, such as 2 or 3 a.m. This pattern can significantly impact their daily routine.


Maintaining Good Sleep Hygiene


Now that we’ve covered the ways in which our sleep begins to change as we age, and the difficulties that stem from those changes, let’s shift gears and talk a bit about how we can help manage our sleep and how we can maintain a healthier sleep hygiene.


What does sleep hygiene mean?


Briefly stated, sleep hygiene is the practice and ritual of sleep habits that help you have the best possible sleep experience with respect to your body and its rhythms. By doing certain activities and avoiding others, we can help our body ease into a good night’s rest more easily.


Some components of good sleep hygiene are:


Consistency is Crucial


Embrace the power of consistency by establishing a regular bedtime and wake-up routine, even on weekends. Let your sleep schedule become a steadfast companion, guiding you to retire and rise at consistent times each day




Your Sleep Space is Your Serene Space


Ensure that your bedroom is a serene sanctuary by creating an environment that is peaceful, dimly lit, soothing, and at a pleasant temperature.


You want the environment of your sleep space to naturally lend itself to resting. This also means avoiding doing activities that might keep you awake. No screens or loud noises.


No Meals or Caffeine


For our mind to get a good night’s rest, our body also needs to be restful. So, it’s best to avoid any late night meals, sugar, or caffeine well before bed time.


You’ll have to do some trial and error to assess your tolerance for caffeine, but you typically want to have your last sip of coffee or the like at least 5-6 hours before bedtime.





How In-Home Care giving Services Can Help


In-home care giving services can provide important support for seniors who struggle with sleep issues. Caregivers can help seniors establish and maintain a regular sleep schedule, providing gentle reminders about bedtime and wake-up times. They can also create a relaxing sleep environment by adjusting lighting and temperature as needed. In-home caregivers can also provide companionship during nighttime hours, which can be especially comforting for seniors who may feel anxious or isolated. Additionally, caregivers can assist with relaxation techniques and exercises, ensuring that seniors are safely and effectively practicing these methods.


In-home care giving services can be especially beneficial for seniors who have medical conditions or mobility issues that make it difficult to maintain good sleep hygiene. For example, caregivers can assist with medication management for seniors who experience insomnia due to medication side effects. They can also provide mobility assistance for seniors with restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea, ensuring that seniors can move safely and comfortably during the night.


As we now know, good sleep hygiene is essential for seniors' overall health and well-being. Common sleep issues in seniors can be addressed through strategies such as establishing a regular sleep schedule, creating a relaxing sleep environment, and practicing relaxation techniques and exercises. In-home care giving services can provide important support for seniors who struggle with sleep issues, helping them to maintain good sleep hygiene and promoting overall health and well-being.


If you or a senior loved one is experiencing sleep issues, consider reaching out to Christian Companions to explore your options for support and care.







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