•  Social Media Team  
  •  Monday, September 4, 2017  
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  •  Aging — Sleep

Lack of sleep can lead to significant problems, but simple adjustments can create better sleep and superior health for the elderly.

The Harmful Effects of Reduced Sleep on the Elderly

All human beings require sleep, and the more we learn about the subject, the more it becomes clear that changes in {sleep and aging} are also connected. Like water, shelter, and food, the right amount of sleep can help people lead a healthy lifestyle, and not be getting enough sleep can cause numerous problems. Lack of sleep can cause headaches, depression, forgetfulness, and impaired judgment.

It’s even linked to irritability, making it a problem not just for people who lose sleep but also for their friends, co-workers, and loved ones. While we sleep, our bodies release hormones that repair skin and other tissues; apparently, it’s not just a saying that sleep is a great medicine! Lack of sleep is also linked to obesity, diabetes, and even cancer. The more we learn about sleep, the more it becomes clear that it is a vital part of overall health and well-being.

Poor sleep among the elderly

Unfortunately, seniors are likely to suffer from a lack of sleep. The National Institute on Aging looked at information from over nine thousand people aged sixty-five and older and found that a majority had at least one complaint about chronic sleep problems. The elderly commonly have difficulty falling asleep, as well as trouble with numerous waking throughout the night, awaking too early in the morning, and excessive daytime drowsiness. These sleep problems among the elderly can be caused by changes in lifestyles (such as losing a lifelong spouse or moving to a nursing home), medications, psychiatric disorders, and shifts in the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.

Facilitating better sleep for the elderly

So how can we create better sleeping conditions for seniors? Like everyone else, an elderly person should consider three basic factors that affect sleep: diet, activity, and environment. Evidence shows that eating certain foods can help with sleep. The classic “sleepy foods,” such as turkey and eggs, contain specific amino acids that induce sleep. Carbohydrates from bread and pasta can have a similar effect. Most experts recommend avoiding caffeine later in the day, so if someone suffers from poor sleep, drinking coffee or soda after lunch is usually not recommended.

Certain activities close to bedtime, such as watching television or using a computer, can also stimulate the mind and body, leading to poor sleep. However, plenty of healthy exercises well before bedtime can be extremely beneficial and improve sleep levels. Finally, someone should have a quiet, peaceful place to rest. Help elderly patients eliminate light in the bedroom, and reduce excessive noise and distractions when they are sleeping.

At Vitae Care, we understand sleep and aging and know how to create a healthy lifestyle that increases the chances of a good night’s sleep. With a caring, knowledgeable staff, we can help with activities, make recommendations for a healthy diet, and organize a household to create a better environment for sleeping.