Importance Of Good Night's Sleep For Seniors - Sleep Awareness Month

Tim Watt  |  March 17, 2016
Use this Sleep Awareness Month to take time to teach your patient's about the benefits of a good night's rest.
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What's better than a good night's sleep? Nothing! Turns out that's actually a scientific fact - Superior health, especially for seniors, starts with a restful sleep. This Sleep Awareness Month, learn why your patients need sleep not just to wake up feeling refreshed, but for better quality of life as well. 

Sleep Quality
Let's start with the basics, because you might be surprised to learn that not all sleep is created equal. NIH Senior Health explained that there are two types of sleep: Non-rapid eye movement and rapid eye movement. NREM ranges from light to deep sleep, whereas REM sleep is the more active stage - your eyes move behind your eyelids while the rest of your muscles are immobile - during which the body experiences dreaming. Every night, a healthy body will cycle through these stages about every 90 minutes. 

Why Sleep Is Important For Seniors
Sleep requirements tend to vary for everyone, but a healthy adult should shoot for anywhere from seven to nine hours of rest a night, HelpGuide.org reported. The reasoning behind this is simple, as the body gets older it becomes more susceptible to disease and is at a higher risk for injury. Therefore, when seniors get a good night sleep, they can focus on better memory care making their brain stronger to fight against dementia. The body needs adequate time to rest and recover. Sleep prevents unnecessary accidents while simultaneously working with the immune system to repair any damage and fight disease, said the source. 

Testing sleep is like taking a patient's temperature, explained HG. Physicians can use this as an indicator as to why certain seniors might be feeling depressed, anxious or drowsy during the day. It's important to catch these problems early, as they increase the potential of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, weight issues and even breast cancer in female seniors. 

Tips For When Sleep Eludes Seniors
It's not uncommon for senior citizens to have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep as they get older. But, as you just learned, this can pose a big health concern. If sleep is eluding your seniors, there are a number of things they can do to get a better night rest, explained Modern Health Talk. 

Check out these tips for getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night:

  1. Exercise More: This is one of the best tips not just for sleep, but for general senior care as well. According to the source, exercising gives seniors endorphins to improve their mood and tires them out, making sleep come easier at night.
  2. Assess Medications: Seniors need their medications, but you should look into them to see if any of the ingredients are what might be keeping them up at night. Perhaps there is a drug that interferes with sleep patterns less, or maybe they can be administered at a different time of day.
  3. Monitor Fluid Intake: Recommend that your patients avoid drinking anything about an hour or two before bed, especially if they have a weak bladder history. This will eliminate one reason why they're waking up in the middle of the night - to use the restroom!
  4. Remove Bedroom Distractions: Even the youngest of minds will benefit from some time to unwind before bed. Blue light emitted from TV and electronics tend to keep the brain awake longer, so keep those out of the bedroom if possible. Pet activity can also be the source of rude awakenings, so if you're patient has an animal, explain that they should be removed from the bedroom.
  5. Control Bedroom Temperatures: You're senior will get a better night sleep if the air is maintained at a comfortable temperature. 

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