Why Is Poor Sleep Common In Older People?
Poor sleep is more common in older people for a variety of reasons, such as pain from existing conditions, the need for more frequent urination, and the result of a slower pace of life and more frequent naps during the day. Age UK tells us that we shouldn’t “expect to sleep as well” as we did when we were younger, and both the quality and quantity of sleep can change as we age.
Why Is It Essential Older People Sleep Well?
Regular lack of sleep can have a serious effect on our health and wellbeing, causing sluggishness, confusion and an inability to process everyday tasks effectively. As we age we can be naturally less mobile and more prone to falls and accidents, so to then compound the effects through not enough rest can lead to further difficulties.
Regular sleep deprivation can also have an effect on pre-existing conditions such as dementia, and with the majority of cases occurring in people aged over 65, it’s important that the brain gets a chance to rest.
Age UK also goes on to tell us that good quality of sleep is vital to brain health because “sleep cycles give your brain a chance to consolidate memories.” Not having good quality or quantity of sleep can also leave us at risk of other health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, as it can make us crave unhealthy foods and risk gaining weight. Not having enough sleep at any age can also leave us vulnerable to low moods and degraded mental health, which will also affect relationships with our loved ones and risk creating a cycle of insomnia.
How You Can Help An Older Loved One Sleep Better
Suggesting ways to get a better night’s sleep can help us at any age, however there are some things we can do to support our older loved ones to benefit from better rest.
Having pleasant surroundings to rest in sounds like an obvious thing to ensure we get a good night’s sleep, but it’s not just about having a comfortable mattress and a warm duvet. Managing pain appropriately is important to ensure that sleep isn’t disrupted more than necessary, as well as having to hand all the things that you may require during the night. ‘Winding down’ to bed time is a good way of getting our brains into sleep mode, and enjoying a warm bath, having a milky drink or doing some light muscle stretches can be effective for some people in encouraging sleepiness.
Most types of strenuous exercise later in the day can have a counterproductive effect on the quality of sleep we experience, however by keeping active during daylight hours instead we can ensure we are appropriately tired by the time it comes to getting ready for bed. The level of activity someone can do will depend on any pre-existing health conditions, however there are always exercises that can be adapted for someone who has limited mobility. Enjoying being in the garden on a warm day or undertaking some light gardening, such as sitting at a potting table or pulling up some weeds, can not only ensure activity but also expose us to some fresh air, which can often make us naturally more tired and help us to get a good night’s sleep.
According to the NHS, to have the best chance of sleep our bedrooms need to be, “dark, quiet, tidy and be kept at a temperature of between 18C and 24C.” Blackout blinds can help some people to feel more restful in their bedroom, as well thick curtains or earplugs if noise is an issue. It’s important that our bedrooms are places to relax in, so keeping the sleeping environment separate from other things such as hobbies or work should help too. Ultimately light, and the distraction of the TV or other electronic devices can stimulate the brain and make sleep allude us, so it’s best to leave those in another room if possible or put them onto aeroplane mode while you’re trying to relax.
Managed Night Care From Helping Hands
One of the best things about receiving your care at home is being able to get up and go to bed when you want, not when care staff have a window of time available to help you. With our fully managed visiting and live-in care services you will have our amazing private carers coming to your home to deliver every aspect of your routine, whether it’s first thing in the morning, throughout the day, overnight, or 24/7 around the clock.
You may need extra support before you go to sleep to ensure you have the best chance of a good night’s rest, or perhaps you want someone with you because you don’t like being in your house alone, but whatever the circumstances our carers can offer reassurance to both you and your loved ones. We have been supporting our customers to live their very best lives at home since 1989, and after gaining more than 30 years of experience we really are the home care experts.
Your care will be supported by local care managers who will always be available, as well as a personalised support plan that will detail every aspect of your care. That way, you and your loved ones can be confident that you’ll receive the care we promise you will every time you need us, and to further back up our promise of delivering excellence every time, we’re fully regulated by the Care Quality Commission and Care Inspectorate Wales.