The benefits of a good nights sleep for the elderly
Sleep and the elderly
Posted by Liz Alderslade FEB 2021
Changing sleep patterns is a normal fact of life when we age. We tend to get tired sooner, wake up earlier in the morning and are not able to stay up as long as in our youth.
One thing that is not normal as we age, is experiencing daily exhaustion. That includes not being able to fall asleep or having any form of insomnia like symptoms.
Sleep will always be just as important to your mental and physical wellbeing as it was when you were a child and throughout your adult life. It helps your body and mind to recharge so you can be refreshed and alert during the day and allow your brain to function properly.
Health benefits of sleep
Getting shut-eye has a myriad of health benefits for your body and mental health.
Good sleep is directly linked to:
- Memory and data retention
- Healthy immune system
- Cell repair
- Preventative for major diseases like heart disease or diabetes
- Reduced likelihood of mental illness, such as depression and anxiety
- Regulates your diet
- Reduces your fall risk
Restful sleep is a really important step towards living a healthy and safe lifestyle throughout your life and in particular during your older years.
Causes of bad sleep
The sleeping patterns of older people do change, you are more likely to sleep less deeply and wake up frequently through the night.
Sleep disorders can be another barrier to reaching blissful sleep, such as:
- Insomnia or sleep apnea
- Restless legs syndrome
- Stress and anxiety
- Chronic health conditions, such as heart conditions or diabetes
- 'Aches and pains' from issues like arthritis or osteoporosis
If you are starting to feel exhausted every day, visit your GP or any medical professional to see if there may be an underlying health problem impacting your sleep.
Poor sleep does show
Looking a bit worn and tired comes with the territory of ageing, however, you will definitely feel, and see, when you are not getting enough sleep.
People with poor sleep generally suffer from a multitude of issues, like:
- Low mood
- Lack of focus and motivation
- Increase in health related problems or mental illness
- Sluggish motor skills
How much shut-eye do I need a night?
It’s always recommended to get seven and a half hours to nine hours worth of sleep every night.
Often children need more sleep than older people. Funnily enough, a person over the age of 65 needs the same amount of sleep as a young adult.
Tips for a better sleep
There are a range of medical issues that can start affecting your sleep when you are older, like arthritis, asthma, heart or lung conditions, or urinary tract problems.
The most important tip is to get on top of any health problems you may have, which may impact the quality of your sleep.
Other tips include:
- Setting a sleep schedule that fits yourself and your partner
- Reducing loud noises like snoring
- Start your wind-down process early
- Reduce your screen time, or wear blue blockers to reduce glare
- Don't depend on aids or medication to help you sleep
- Physical intimacy between partners can assist with sleep
- Morning 'nanna nap' are okay and can wake you up for the rest of the day
- Have a healthy diet
- Moderately exercise through the week
Remember, good sleeping habits can be key to having successful and restful sleep.
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