Sleep is a vital part of our everyday routines. While everyone needs sleep to live full and healthy lives, many seniors aren’t able to get the necessary amount of restful slumber on a nightly basis. Why is this the case? Along with the natural change in sleep rhythms that comes with aging, disruptive sleep schedules are common among aging adults, usually as the result of medication, health and activity habits, or illness.
The Importance of Sleep
For many seniors, a lack of sleep can cause feelings of grogginess. However, chronic sleep issues or a complete lack of consistent sleep can result in more serious issues, including obesity, diabetes, and an increased risk of heart attacks and depression. Because of these risks, it’s important that family members know what to do to promote regular sleep schedules for their aging loved ones.
Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted elderly home care provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide. Home Care Assistance is here to help.
The Different Sleep Cycles
When setting up a sleep schedule for your loved one, it’s important to understand sleep cycles. As the body enters sleep, it goes through the various sleep cycles in different stages. The first stage involves relaxation of the mind and body. Because people in the first or second stage of sleep are easily awakened, changing the mattress or pillow and creating a clutter-free zone with minimal disturbances and noise can promote comfortable and easy sleep in these stages.
After sleeping for 30–45 minutes, the body may begin to move into the third and fourth stages of sleep. People who wake up during the third or fourth stage of sleep will be very groggy and tired and may have difficulty falling back into a restful slumber. To limit the chances of waking up during this stage, seniors should limit caffeine and alcohol intake close to bedtime. Physical activity should also be completed earlier in the day so the body is tired at night.
The fifth stage of sleep is the REM stage. At this point, the body is virtually catatonic. It’s during REM sleep when the body repairs itself, reinvigorates muscles, and gets prepared to face the next day. For some seniors, waking up during this stage of sleep is the result of needing to use the restroom.
Cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia can affect quality of sleep. Aging in place can present a few challenges for seniors living with dementia. However, they can still live independently at home with the help of professional dementia care. Jefferson County families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide their elderly loved ones with mental and social stimulation, timely medication reminders, assistance with meal prep, and much more. Our caregivers are available around the clock to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life.
The Ideal Sleep Schedule for Seniors
Seniors should aim to get about seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Many seniors go to bed early and wake up early, which is fine as long as they’re getting the recommended amount of sleep per night.
Older adults, especially those who are having difficulty sleeping, should follow regular sleep schedules. They should try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, as it can keep their bodies in sync with their internal circadian clocks. They should also try to get some natural light each day, as circadian rhythms are affected by sunlight. It’s also important to establish a safe, comfortable sleep environment, such as a quiet, well-ventilated bedroom.
Caring for a senior with an irregular sleep pattern can be overwhelming because it may also disrupt the caregiver’s sleep. If you’re the primary family caregiver for an elderly loved one and need additional assistance providing high-quality senior care, Jefferson County Home Care Assistance can help. We are a leading home care agency committed to changing the way seniors age. If your loved one needs professional home care, Home Care Assistance is here to help. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at (303) 987-5992 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.