As your senior relative gets older, you may notice a change in their sleeping patterns. Yes, you should absolutely have your relative see their doctor to determine if there is anything that might contribute to extra sleepiness or a shift in their sleeping patterns.
But in many cases, seniors who need more sleep or sleep at different hours are totally normal. Integrity Home Care + Hospice talks about why seniors sleep so much and what you can help them with when it comes to getting enough rest.
The Sleep Foundation outlines what happens to seniors and their sleep as they advance in age.
The body’s natural rhythm, based on sunlight and daylight countering the darkness of night, shifts forward as they age. Your senior relative may feel sleepy in the afternoon and go to bed earlier than usual, and then they will wake up earlier in the morning. This is totally normal.
Research also suggests that seniors experience changes in various stages of sleep. As our bodies age, we may experience waking up more often at night because older people spend more time in earlier, lighter stages of sleep versus later, deeper stages of sleep. A typical sleep cycle lasts 90 minutes, ending with rapid eye movement (REM) sleep when we dream. Older adults may not experience as much REM sleep as before.
Getting less restful sleep at night leads to naps during the day. The Sleep Foundation states that 25 percent of older adults take naps, compared to just 8 percent of young adults. Taking naps leads to a disruption of nighttime sleep, and that could lead to a disruption of your senior relative’s sleep schedule.
The first thing you can do for your senior is talk to a medical professional, particularly a primary care physician. A doctor who knows the health history of your senior relative can make the best determination for your relative’s good health.
As a caregiver, either you or someone from Integrity can help your senior relative with several aspects of sleep. WebMD has some good tips.
Getting into a routine. Help your relative get into a routine, and make sure they go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. This may take some time and effort to accomplish, as it usually takes longer for seniors to develop new sleep habits. But be patient. It will happen eventually.
Help your loved one relax. We’ve all been down this road: worry, anxiety, stress, or grief keeps us up at night. Particularly if your senior relative has some health concerns, it’s vital to help your loved one stay calm. You can help have a positive attitude and maintain calm even when there are stresses involved. Integrity Home Care’s team of professionals can assist with this.
Talk to the care team. Your loved one’s doctor needs to know every medication your relative is on, if any, because those can affect sleep. Integrity Home Care’s professionals are trained in medication management. Clinical staff can speak to a care team and primary care physician to understand precisely what’s going on and relay what symptoms he or she observes while caring for your relative at home. A doctor can also diagnose someone with a sleep disorder and recommend a treatment regimen. Sadly, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease cause sleep problems, too.
Keep your senior relative active and engaged. Regular physical activity helps your relative maintain good health. You should also interact with your loved one whenever you can to stave off isolation, boredom, and depression.
The care team at Integrity can help your senior relative get enough sleep and rest by making their lives easier when they heal at home. They should get eight hours of sleep per night, according to modern medical science. Reach out to us or call 1.855.442.4968 for more information on how we can help your loved one maintain independence while healing at home.
Here for you. There with you. All along the way.