Tag Archives: senior sleep

Daylight Saving Time and Seniors


This Sunday, March 8th, starts the beginning of Daylight Saving Time for this year. Be sure to set your clocks forward one hour before going to bed Saturday night. Most of us get accustomed to this yearly time change with a few extra cups of coffee or if possible, an afternoon nap. Within a couple of days our bodies have adjusted and we’re back to the usual schedule. This isn’t the case with many seniors who are already dealing with sleep issues as they age and may have chronic conditions that lead to insomnia. Additional sources of sleep problems include medications, psychological issues like depression, and neurological illnesses such as dementia. Compounding these problems is the fact that as seniors get older they often develop “advanced sleep phase syndrome”. Their internal clock makes them sleepy earlier in the evening and wakes them earlier in the morning. Moving the clock ahead affects the senior’s circadian rhythm or natural sleep cycle. Because of daylight saving time, your loved one may have difficulty falling asleep earlier in the evening and more wakefulness in the early part of the night. This kind of sleep disruption can lead to grogginess, disorientation, and decreased ability to concentrate.

There are several things that can be done to adjust to the new “spring forward” time. Most importantly, get as much exposure to light during the day as possible. Natural sunlight suppresses your body’s production of melatonin which induces sleep. Keep window blinds open to sunlight and get outdoors if possible. Dim lights in the evening and avoid the bright lights of the television or computer screen before bed and be sure to use a night light in the bathroom at night instead of turning on overhead lights. If you find that you must take a nap, be sure it’s short and that you take it earlier in the day rather than later. You’ll be feeling hungry later in the day but be careful to avoid a heavy meal at least two to three hours before your bedtime. Stay away from caffeine after noon because it can affect your sleep for ten to twelve hours after consumption. Avoid alcohol before bed. Although it may help you fall asleep by relaxing you, it will actually make it harder for you to stay asleep. Limit the amount of liquids you consume for a couple of hours before you go to bed. Getting up to go to the bathroom is the major cause of waking at night for seniors. Following these suggestions should help your senior adjust more quickly to the time change but if the sleep schedule doesn’t return to normal in a few weeks, it may be time to consult your doctor. How do you adjust to the time change? Share below and visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

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Aging and Sleep

When we’re young we often burn the candle at both ends when it comes to our sleep habits. We stay up late watching TV, socializing with friends, or doing schoolwork and then get up the next morning and go to work or school. Weekends are “catch-up time” with some power sleeping —-or not. Somehow we survive these erratic sleep habits. That all changes as you get into your senior years and sleep becomes much more important. It allows your body to restore its energy levels and it refreshes the immune system so it can help prevent disease as we age. In addition, sleep improves concentration and memory function. As you get older your sleep changes and you can’t bounce back from lack of sleep as you once did. Your body produces less melatonin so you wake up more often at night. In addition, an aging internal clock makes you wake up earlier in the morning while making you sleepier earlier in the evening. You generally need more time to fall asleep and any noises you hear at night may awaken you more readily than when you were younger. The problem is that as you age you still need seven to nine hours of sleep at night, just as you did in your early adult life. According to the National Sleep Foundation, almost half of older adults experience insomnia at least a few nights per week. In the over 65 age group, 13% of men and 36% of women need more than a half hour to fall asleep.

As you get older, there are a lot of factors that can directly affect your sleep. Most seniors are dealing with multiple health issues such as arthritis, heartburn, lung disease, or heart problems and the pain and discomfort they result in can keep you awake at night. These health issues are usually accompanied by a litany of medications and they too can affect the quality of sleep. These medications include anti-depressants, diuretics, decongestants, and high blood pressure medications. Psychological issues like depression and neurological illnesses like dementia are an additional source of sleep problems.

There are steps you can take to ensure a good night’s sleep. Many of them are simple lifestyle changes such as avoiding caffeine and alcohol at least 6 hours before bedtime and not eating heavy meals late in the day. Sticking to a regular schedule for going to bed and getting up in the morning (even on weekends) gets your body into a regular routine. Getting regular exercise reduces stress and according to the Feinberg School of Medicine results in dramatic improvement in the quality of sleep. Limit the amount of liquids you consume for a couple of hours before you go to bed. Getting up to go to the bathroom is the major cause of waking at night for seniors. If you make these changes yet are unsuccessful in getting a good night’s sleep, it’s time to talk to your family doctor. Do you have any good sleep tips to share? Visit us at www.trilliumhomecare.com

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How Can I Get A Good Night’s Sleep?

How Can I Get A Good Night’s Sleep?

If you have problems falling asleep or staying asleep there are things you can do:

1. Try to follow a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time, even on weekends.
2. Take time do something relaxing before bedtime such as reading a book or listening to music.
3. Melatonin regulates your sleep/wake cycle. Bright light suppresses its production in your body. Try to get some exposure to bright sunlight in the daytime and avoid the bright lights of the television or computer screen before bed so your body produces melatonin to help you fall asleep at night.
4. Get some exercise at least three hours before bedtime.
5. Don’t eat a heavy meal at least 2-3 hours before bedtime.
6. Use your bedroom for sleep, not for watching TV or working.
7. Make sure your bedroom is comfortable, dark, and cool (about 65 degrees).
8. Avoid caffeine after noon. It can affect your sleep for 10-12 hours after consumption.
9. Avoid alcohol before bed. Although it may help you fall asleep by relaxing you, it will make it harder for you to stay asleep.
10. Don’t smoke before going to bed. The nicotine in cigarettes is a stimulant.
11. Use the bathroom before going to bed to reduce the need to get up at night.
12. If you get insomnia often, try not to nap during the day.
13. If you get sleepy much too early for bedtime, don’t just sit around. Do something mildly active so you don’t sleep too early in the evening.

If you follow these tips for two or three weeks and your sleep doesn’t improve or if you find you’re so tired throughout the day that you can’t function well, be sure to see your doctor or a sleep disorder specialist. What have you found to be helpful in dealing with sleep problems? Share below.

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How Important Is Sleep As You Age?

How Important  is Sleep As You Age?

There’s a common myth out there that sleep isn’t very important as you age.  Just the opposite of that is true. As a senior, getting enough sleep is critical to being healthy and that in turn translates into a better quality of life. Sleeping gives our bodies time to rest and recharge.  Physically, sleep deprivation has a negative effect on our reflexes, judgement, and fine motor skills.  It has also been linked to heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Seniors who don’t get enough sleep are much more likely to have depressed moods.  Just as important, a lack of sleep will decrease the ability to focus and make it hard to learn new things efficiently.  Our brains require that we have sufficient sleep so that we can not only absorb information but also recall it.  The brain can actually age by up to seven years as a result of a lack of sleep.

A variety of issues can cause sleep deprivation in seniors:

*Due to health problems and a combination of medications, insomnia becomes common.

*Often, frequent trips to the bathroom at night are caused by prostate enlargement in men or incontinence issues in women.

*As seniors get older they often develop “advanced sleep phase syndrome”.  Their internal clock makes them sleepy earlier in the evening and wakes them earlier in the  morning.

*With age comes an increase in sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.

Remember that healthy and sufficient sleep should be expected at all ages, even with seniors.  In fact, seniors need just as much sleep as young adults, about 7-9 hours per night. How has a lack of sleep affected you? Share below.

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