Sleep Deprivation: How It Affects Seniors and Tips to Avoid It

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Understanding the Importance of Adequate Sleep for the Elderly

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If you’ve ever found yourself lying awake at night staring at the ceiling, you know how frustrating getting poor-quality sleep can be. Problems with sleep may worsen with age, which increases a senior’s risks of sleep disorders. Understanding the importance of adequate rest can allow families help seniors get sufficient shuteye and prevent other issues associated with sleep deprivation. Dayton home care explain the dangers of sleep deprivation to encourage the elderly to get adequate rest and maintain healthy sleep schedules.

Why Is Sleep So Important? 

To understand why we need sleep, it’s important to know what sleep does for our bodies. Sleep allows the body to put all of its resources toward healing and repairing the body. This includes everything from helping the body recover from a cold to repairing muscles or strengthening bones. Lack of sleep renders the body incapable of allocating energy to these healing processes, which can cause serious health issues and weaken the immune system.

Sleep also allows the body to balance hormone levels it needs to function properly. For instance, sleep helps our bodies produce enough of the hormone leptin, which signals a feeling of fullness. Individuals who don’t get enough sleep are likely to feel hungry more often, eat too much, and are at a higher risk for obesity. 

Is Sleep Deprivation Dangerous? 

Having a bad night’s sleep every once in a while is not dangerous, but when sleep issues disturb you more frequently, it can begin to affect your health. Interrupted sleep not only means an individual isn’t getting all the benefits outlined above, but it also affects memory, cognitive function, and reasoning capabilities. In fact, depriving someone of sleep is an age-old interrogation and torture technique. 

Sleep is thought to impact the brain by allowing it to process information it received during the day and make pathways to connect old and new information. Sleep is also critical for the portion of our brain that handles decision making, meaning that inadequate sleep can lead to poor judgment calls. Additionally, lack of sleep has been shown to negatively impact the way certain areas of the brain function. This can be especially problematic for senior individuals who already experience natural cognitive decline due to aging.  

How Much Sleep Is the Right Amount? 

Getting the right amount of sleep is important, but exactly how much should an individual get each night? The amount of sleep an individual needs varies from person to person, but most adults need an average of eight hours of sleep per night. Some individuals may require as much as ten or more hours of sleep. Contrary to popular belief, seniors do not require any less sleep than anyone else. In fact, the elderly may need more sleep because aging can make it harder for the body to perform healing and processing tasks with less rest.

How Can Seniors Improve Sleeping Patterns?

Keeping a regular wake and sleep cycle can help your body’s internal clock from getting confused. Ever notice why you get up earlier or later after the time change? This is your body trying to adjust to the change in its internal clock. In the same way, going to sleep and getting up at the same time daily can help the body establish good sleep patterns. If caffeine has a tendency to keep you awake, don’t eat or drink anything with caffeine within six hours of bedtime, or cut caffeine out of your diet completely. Heavy meals and alcoholic beverages should also be avoided prior to sleep. An exercise routine can also help the body have better quantity and quality of sleep and increase alertness during the day. You should minimize light, especially light from electronic devices, noise, and high or low temperatures in the bedroom.

If you are looking for more ways to enhance your senior loved one’s health and wellness, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our comprehensive part-time and live-in care in Dayton offers seniors help with daily activities like personal care, housekeeping, and regular exercise to establish a regular routine and promote overall health. Call a knowledgeable Care Manager today at 937.353.7997 to learn more about how Home Care Assistance can help your senior loved one. Don’t forget to schedule your free in-home consultation.