An elderly woman yawning beside her sleeping husband in bed

Sleep Issues in the Senior Population: How to Manage Them at Home

Sleep issues are common among seniors. With age comes several physical and psychological changes affecting your sleep quality and quantity. As a senior, it’s crucial to understand how sleep works, how aging affects sleep, and how to manage sleep issues. Read on for tips on addressing common senior sleep issues from the comfort of your own home.

Understanding How Aging Affects Sleep

Research shows that aging can lead to changes in the body’s internal clock, making it difficult for seniors to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning. This can also cause seniors to experience excessive daytime drowsiness or “sleep inertia” when they wake up in the morning. Additionally, many seniors have underlying medical conditions that can affect their ability to get restful sleep at night. Seniors must be mindful of these changes and work with their doctor if needed.

Address Medical Conditions That Can Affect Sleep Quality

If you have an underlying medical condition affecting your ability to get restful sleep at night, talk with your doctor about potential treatments, such as lifestyle modifications or medications that may help you manage these conditions more effectively. For example, suppose you suffer from chronic pain or arthritis. In that case, there are over-the-counter medications available that may help reduce inflammation and allow you to get better quality rest throughout the night.

You can also safely use sleeping aids such as melatonin supplements if a healthcare professional recommends them. They can help regulate your body’s natural circadian rhythm so that it is easier for you to fall asleep at night and wake up feeling refreshed each morning. You should always consult your doctor before taking any medication or supplement.

Other life-limiting illnesses can also cause sleep issues. Some older patients can benefit from Medicare-covered home care services to help them manage their condition and sleep better. Professional caregivers can aid in medication management, assist with mobility, and help you get settled in bed each night, giving you complete rest at night.

A healthcare professional and an elderly woman in bed

Create a Consistent Bedtime Routine

Creating a consistent bedtime routine is one of the best ways to improve sleep quality as a senior. This means going to bed and waking up at approximately the same time each day (even on weekends). Routines should include activities like reading, stretching, or taking a warm bath before bedtime—all of which will help you relax before trying to fall asleep. Additionally, try avoiding caffeine late in the day and limiting screen time before bedtime—both of which can disrupt your internal clock and make it harder for you to fall asleep at night.

If you don’t have a regular sleep schedule, start by waking up at the same time each day and then gradually move to an earlier bedtime. This will help your body adjust to a more consistent schedule and make it easier for you to rest at night. The time it takes to adjust can vary from person to person, so be patient and stick with it.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

The more relaxed you are, the better your chance of falling asleep quickly and staying asleep. Relaxation techniques can help reduce stress and anxiety that may prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. Examples of relaxation techniques include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, and mindfulness meditation. Practicing one or more of these techniques can help you sleep better and reduce the risk of insomnia.

Depending on your preferences, you can use relaxation techniques before bedtime or even when you wake up in the middle of the night. Additionally, some apps and online tools can help guide you through relaxation techniques, such as those offered by the National Sleep Foundation. These tools can help you develop a personalized relaxation regimen for better sleep.

Consider Adjusting Your Environment

Your bedroom environment plays a big role in your sleep quality. Start by making sure your mattress and pillows are comfortable and supportive—over time, these items can start to lose their shape, which can make it harder to sleep. If needed, talk with your doctor or healthcare professional about the best mattress and pillow options for you.

You may also want to consider light therapy and/or a white noise machine, which can help relax your brain and improve restful sleep. These devices, when used correctly, can signal to your body that it is time for sleep and help create a calming environment.

Sleep is important for seniors, and managing sleep issues is essential for maintaining good overall health. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to help improve your sleep quality. Always consult your doctor before taking any type of medication or supplement, and create a consistent bedtime routine. Additionally, practice relaxation techniques and consider adjusting your environment to promote better rest. With these strategies, you can get the quality sleep you need to stay healthy and happy.

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