Everyone knows the feeling: deep breaths, white noise, counting sheep, all in an attempt to force our brains to shut down to allow us the sleep we desperately need. As we grow older, it can be even more challenging to get enough sleep. Older adults can experience changes in their sleep architecture, including lighter sleep, more frequent awakenings, and a shift towards earlier bedtimes. Yet maintaining healthy sleep patterns is very important for cognitive function, emotional health, and physical vitality.
What Affects Senior Sleeping Habits?
There are numerous factors impacting senior sleep, including:
- Environmental Factors: Temperature, noise, and light can affect sleep quality.
- Changes in Circadian Rhythm: Aging can alter the body’s internal clock, leading to a preference for earlier wake and sleep times.
- Medications: Certain medications may have side effects that disrupt sleep patterns.
So, How Can You Help a Senior Loved One Sleep Better?
- A Comfortable Sleep Environment: Make sure the pillows and mattress are comfortable and supportive. Consider soft, breathable bedding materials, and if applicable, invest in sleep-inducing scents or a white noise machine to create an optimal atmosphere for relaxation.
- Regular Exercise: Exercise is important, but just as important is the timing of physical activity. Engaging in exercise early in the day can contribute to better sleep. Encourage activities that the person enjoys, whether it is a morning walk, light yoga, or gardening, fostering a healthy routine that aligns with their preferences.
- A Consistent Routine: Encouraging a regular sleep routine is vital for older adults. Beyond adhering to consistent bedtimes and wake-up times, consider incorporating calming pre-sleep rituals. This could include activities such as listening to soothing music, reading a book, or practicing gentle meditation to signal to the body that it’s time to wind down.
- Relaxation Techniques: There are a number of relaxation techniques that older adults can incorporate into their pre-sleep routine, such as deep breathing, mindfulness exercises, and gentle stretching routines. There are both physical and mental benefits of relaxation practices in preparing the mind and body for a restful night of sleep.
- Limited Naps: Though there are benefits to short naps, longer naps, especially later in the day, make it harder to fall and stay asleep at night. Emphasize the importance of brief, rejuvenating naps while cautioning against extended daytime sleep, which could disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle.
- Mindful Eating: Specific foods promote sleep, such as those rich in magnesium or tryptophan. Additionally, herbal teas are known for their calming properties. Offer practical tips on portion control and timing to optimize the positive impact of nutrition on sleep.
Our caregivers are helping to support senior sleeping habits by helping seniors stay engaged, active, eating healthier, and enjoying calming routines. Email or call us at (866) 229-2505 to learn how we can assist someone you love in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, St. Joseph, or the surrounding areas.