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Catch Your Z’s: A Closer Look at Senior Sleep

by Senior LIFE

Jul 29, 2019

As you enter your golden years, sleep is more elusive with a host of new problems. Our bodies go through tremendous changes throughout our lives. Consequently, the way we catch our z’s must also change. Below are some sleep tips for seniors to find sleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Sleep Tips For Seniors Are Different

Picture this all-too-familiar scenario; When you were a child, you had no problems sleeping. You could sleep for 11 – 12 hours, and would wake feeling refreshed and recharged, much to your mother’s exhausted dismay.  As you reached middle age, you slept seven to nine hours and, for the most part, it was a restorative sleep. Now, as you enter your golden years, sleep is elusive with a host of new problems.

These sleep changes occur for a variety of reasons, including the fact that sleep disorders are more common among seniors. Seniors also tend to take several medications, and many medications can cause issues with falling or staying asleep.

Seniors also face changes in their circadian rhythm due to underlying health issues like sleep apnea, changes in diet or exercise, and bad lifestyle habits. Compounding the issue, REM cycles are shorter as we age, and we tend to stir easily and more frequently.

Seniors Need to Focus on the Z’s
Sleep deprivation can affect all areas of your life. It can slow your ability to process and retain information, affect your emotional well-being, and negatively impact weight gain. The effects of sleep deprivations among seniors also tend to be more pronounced.

REM sleep is associated with brain health and memory. During a normal night, adults complete 4 to 5 REM cycles.  With more night awakenings and changes in sleep behaviors, seniors spend less time in REM sleep. Lack of REM sleep can result in memory loss for seniors.

Safe, Quality Sleep Tips For Seniors
Some sleep tips are ageless – counting sheep, counting backwards from 100, etc. There are also some things that seniors can do to catch quality z’s:

  • Make sure the room is dark with a lamp within reaching distance. To avoid a creating a trip hazard, make sure any cords are behind furniture or tapped down
  • Go to bed around the same time each night. This is especially important for seniors who have advanced sleep phase syndrome.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine late in the day.
  • Avoid napping late in the afternoon or evening.
  • Exercise in the morning or afternoon, But not within 3 hours of bedtime.
  • Avoid eating large meals late in the day or over-snacking before bed.

Senior LIFE knows the importance of sleep for seniors, and nothing can replace the comfort of sleeping at home in your own bed. Our goal is to partner with you and your family to keep you living at home and out of a nursing facility. The LIFE program has been shown to limit hospital stays and a higher quality of life.

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