What Causes Sleep Deprivation in Seniors and How to Fix It

By on April 16, 2017
What Causes Sleep Deprivation in Seniors and How to Fix It

The older you get, the more difficult it is to fall and stay asleep, the National Sleep Foundation says. Often, this is associated with the increased prevalence of medication intake. It may be also caused by insomnia resulting from psychiatric or medical conditions, or from a decreased production and secretion of melatonin, the hormone that induces restful sleep. For seniors, these factors can result in:

  • More time spent in lighter stages of sleep versus deep and REM sleep
  • An increase in waking up during the night
  • Decreased alertness during the day, which affects the overall sleep pattern

Being mindful of these impending challenges can help prepare you to make smart sleep choices for a more restful and satisfying sleep. Here are a few to keep in mind.

Invest in a Quality Bed

If your mattress, bed frame, boxspring or pillows are past their prime, it’s time to replace them. Consider a high-quality memory foam mattress from a reputable manufacturer to replace what you’re using now. It allows you to sleep on a surface that perfectly contours to your body, which minimizes movement of you and your partner during the night and relieves pressure points.

Practice Mindful Meditation or Prayer

Stress and anxiety can keep any age group up at night. A study published by the American Medical Association of older adults with sleep disturbances found mindfulness awareness practices were more effective than sleep hygiene education in creating better quality sleep. The group that practiced mindful meditation saw a significant decrease in insomnia and depression symptoms, as well as a decrease in fatigue severity.

Not only does meditation help sleep problems, it also reduces daytime tiredness. In addition, many people find that the act of prayer helps them be more balanced. Practicing mindful sitting meditation or prayer for a few minutes each day can lead to long lasting quality of life improvements.

Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise is one of the most important actions you can perform to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. It can help prevent physical ailments and help you maintain a healthy body mass index, which decreases the likelihood of snoring that increases in overweight and obese adults.

Exercise is also proven to increase quality of sleep. A study published by the Journal of Sleep Research found the more consistent and lengthy exercise behavior was in older adults, there was less wake time after sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults who are aged 65 and older perform at least five hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity a week and at least two days of muscle-strengthening activities working all major muscle groups a week for maximum health benefits. Use these guidelines to make your sleep the best it can be, too.

You might also want to integrate yoga into your exercise habits. A study in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine found yoga improves sleep and quality of life in older adults with insomnia.

Know Your Limitations

It is vital to be aware of how the medications you take may affect your sleep. Talk with your doctor about what to expect, so you can get unique recommendations to mitigate any negative effects on sleep and energy the medication might cause.

Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake can help your body better regulate its natural sleep patterns, while regularly engaging in activities that are relaxing to you before bed is also beneficial. Whether it’s taking a warm bath, drinking decaf tea, using aromatherapy or doing a quiet activity like reading or art before bed, you can set yourself up for a more restful night in a peaceful environment.

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