TIPS FOR GETTING A GOOD NIGHT'S SLEEP
Today is Sleep Awareness Day #YourDayBeginsWithSleep.
As we get older it is normal to have changes in your sleep patterns, you make wake earlier or feel you are not getting deep quality sleep. However, problems with disturbed sleep such as waking up tired every day are not a normal part of ageing. Sleep is just as crucial to our physical and emotional wellbeing as when we were younger. It's important that as we age, especially if we are suffering from conditions such as dementia, we have healthy sleep patterns. Changes will not occur overnight you have to be patient! Good sleep routines improve concentration and reduce memory loss equally bad patterns can lead to serious health issues and the elderly may suffer more falls as a consequence.
Common causes of insomnia and sleep issues in the elderly.
- Irregular bedtimes or falling asleep in front of the TV. Having a bedroom that is too hot or too cold. Make sure your room is dark and quiet and you have a regular bedtime.
- Lack of exercise and being too sedentary can cause people to feel sleepy. It is vital to overall health to take regular exercise in the day. Being outside is important for our melatonin and sleep-wake cycles. try to get outside whenever you can.
- Don't read from a backlit device such as an iPad, keep your bedroom for sleeping only. Use a low-level night light.
- Older adults tend to take more medications which can impair sleep. Health conditions such as Alzheimers and dementia can interfere with sleep. Talk to your doctor if you think that your medication is affecting your sleep.
- Limit caffeine late in the day, this includes tea, coffee, fizzy drinks and chocolate.
- Avoid alcohol before bedtime it may make you sleepy initially but will disrupt overall sleep.
- Cut down on sugary foods and refined carbohydrate, they can cause sleep disruption.
- Avoid big meals or spicy foods before bedtime as this can lead to discomfort. Light snacks are fine before bed.
Getting Back to Sleep
- As you get older, it's normal to wake more often during the night. However, if you're having problems do read the tips below.
- The most important thing is to make relaxation your goal not sleep. Try a relaxation technique such as deep breathing or meditation.
- Avoid clock watching it will just aggravate your insomnia.
- Give yourself 20 minutes to fall asleep if you're still awake, get out of bed and do a quiet non-stimulating activity such as reading.
- Write it down. If something specific is on your mind having a notebook to write it down and thinking about it in the morning can help. Stress and anxiety can build up in the day, try to keep a to-do list and write concerns down before you go to sleep.
When to talk to a doctor about sleep problems
- If you or your elderly relatives are still experiencing sleep problems keep a sleep diary and talk to your doctor.
- A doctor will want to know how much sleep your getting, your medications, how much alcohol and caffeine you consume and what exercise you take.
- A doctor may prescribe some medication to help you establish a better sleep routine. Sleeping tablets can be effective when used sparingly for short-term situations. Often the issues are more about addressing other lifestyle issues as relying on medications is not a long-term solution.