It’s not uncommon for Nassau County seniors to experience more health problems as they age. Many of them also find that they have trouble sleeping. Unfortunately, research suggests that poor sleep habits may contribute more than we thought to health issues. Caregivers with the David York Home Healthcare Agency understand how important it is for seniors to get quality sleep. Here’s what you need to know about how a good night’s sleep can help protect your loved one and how you can help them get the best rest possible.
Sleep May Impact Heart Health
You already know that missing sleep can leave you groggy the next day, but research shows that when you sleep may actually have serious effects on your health. The Guardian reports that a study demonstrated that people who stay up late are at greater risk for heart disease and diabetes.
It seems that people who prefer to wake up early show differences in how their metabolism works. They seem to have better insulin sensitivity, so their bodies use fat as an energy source more, and they tend to be more active during the day. Because of these differences, early risers tend to have less body fat than their night owl counterparts.
People who prefer to stay up late have higher rates of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. More research is needed on the subject, but researchers suggest that the problem may be not just when people go to bed, but how that affects how much sleep they get.
People who stay up late often have to get up earlier than they’d like, because of work or other obligations. Our bodies’ circadian rhythms are very resistant to change. When you try to force a wake/sleep pattern that doesn’t meet your needs, it can easily lead to chronic sleep deprivation.
Recommended Sleep Habits in Seniors
Your elderly loved one probably doesn’t need to get up early for work. But their lifestyle may still affect their sleep patterns in a way that impacts their health.
According to the National Institute on Aging, seniors’ circadian rhythms may actually cause problems at the beginning of sleep. The sleep needs of older adults are generally the same as those of younger adults. They need about seven to nine hours of sleep per night. But as people age, they tend to want to go to sleep earlier than they used to.
It can be difficult for people to adjust their expectations about when they should go to bed and get up. Just as being forced to wake up early may have negative consequences, pushing yourself to stay up later when you’re sleepy can cause problems too.
Seniors also grapple with other issues that may affect their sleep. They often have chronic pain from conditions such as arthritis, which makes it difficult to relax. Certain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s, can cause an increase in anxiety and restlessness in the evening. Elderly people are also more likely to have movement disorders, such as restless leg syndrome, that disrupt sleep.
Unfortunately, the health risks of missing sleep are even more serious for seniors than they are for other adults. A lack of adequate rest can increase issues such as memory problems, the risk of falls, and irritability or depression.
A good night’s sleep is important for seniors’ health and quality of life. How can you help them with that?
How To Help Seniors Improve Their Sleep Habits
The important thing to focus on is having a reliable routine that supports sleep. If your loved one gets sleepy early in the evening, try to ensure that they’re able to go to bed when they need to. Plan outings and family events around their optimal bedtime. As their circadian rhythm shifts, you may need to adjust when caregivers arrive for bedtime or morning routines.
Here are some other ways to support sleep in seniors:
- Avoid naps if possible, especially late in the day. We all need a quick nap sometimes, but sleeping during the day can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Try to have your loved one get up and go to sleep at the same time every day.
- Have a soothing bedtime routine. Read a book, listen to music, have a cup of herbal tea, or try some other ritual that will help them wind down and prepare for sleep.
- Try to get some exercise early in the day. Even a short walk in the morning will help prepare for a good night’s sleep.
- Avoid screens in the evening. The light emitted from a TV, tablet, or phone can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
- Try not to eat large meals in the evening.
A good night’s sleep not only feels great, but it also helps seniors live happier, healthier lives.
David York Agency Home Healthcare Can Help Seniors in Nassau County
At the David York Home Healthcare Agency, our caregivers understand the importance of helping your loved one maintain the connections and activities that bring them joy. For information about how we can help support seniors to live their best lives, contact us today!
DYA understands the many challenges and risks faced by the aging and elderly and are dedicated to providing care to support them through all of those ups and down. At David York Home Healthcare Agency, extraordinary service is what sets us apart from other companies in Nassau County that provide in-home healthcare services.
DYA we could provide direction as to how to manage the total care of your senior loved one. Whatever your care needs, we are there for you, always striving to exceed your expectations. For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at (718) 376-7755. A free phone consultation can help you determine what services would meet your needs. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance they need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn.