Very often, elderly people complain of various ailments. One of them is a problem with falling asleep or staying asleep. We’re used to the general opinion that seniors don’t need much rest, and while that’s true, it doesn’t mean they don’t need any sleep at all. Whatever the age, a person has an unconditional need to sleep to function properly because that is how our body regenerates and rests. Then we can enjoy the next day without any unnecessary problems. Are you wondering how to help your parents or grandparents get healthy sleep? Or maybe you are struggling with such a problem yourself? In this article, we will offer several ways to help seniors get a good night’s sleep.
1. Sleep hygiene
Older people often take naps during the day. It is not a good idea because the body regulates the right amount of sleep on its own, so if we sleep during the day – it is difficult to sleep all night (this applies to seniors, of course). When elderly people retire, their lives change dramatically. They begin to lack consistency. Often, the seemingly endless amount of time and dream of being able to rest as much as they want turns into a nightmare. That is why it is so important to maintain the right pace during the day – consistent meal times and activities – and then allow yourself to celebrate rest in the evening hours. Remember to air out your bedroom before going to bed. Make sure you have a relaxing bath and beauty treatments in advance – you have time! In this way, your body will receive the message that it is time to calm down and go to sleep.
Most seniors spend their time passively, watching TV or admiring nature from a comfortable armchair. If your body allows it, remember to take time for physical activity every day! You don’t have to do exhausting workouts. A 30-minute walk in the company of a partner, friend, colleague, or loved one is enough. You can also engage in this activity alone. It is important to spend time outdoors. Such a regular habit will, first, keep you healthy, second, bring you joy, and third, make it easier to fall asleep for a long, restful, and uninterrupted sleep. Remember to avoid this type of activity within 3 hours of your bedtime, as exercise will stimulate you for some time, and you may have trouble falling asleep despite fatigue.
3. Over-the-counter weighted blanket
A weighted blanket is another way to promote exceptional sleep. Its weight will gently wrap your body, the pleasant pressure will make you feel extremely safe, your muscles will relax, and you will fall asleep faster. People with dementia often suffer in the evening from what is called sundown syndrome. As soon as it gets dark, they begin to feel anxiety, fear, and insecurity. These feelings make it harder to find the peace they need to relax before bedtime. The weighted blanket reduces anxiety and allows you to enjoy sleep. Additionally, the pillowcase material is extremely pleasant to the touch and helps maintain a comfortable body temperature of the senior. It is a great alternative to sleeping pills, which, especially in the case of seniors, have a negative effect on the body already burdened with other drugs. You can give your parents, grandparents, or yourself a little luxury and fall asleep like a baby!
It’s no secret that another pillar of our well-being, apart from sleep, is proper nutrition and physical activity. Very often, we eat in the evening, which unfortunately does not favour us when falling asleep. Hard-to-digest foods, alcohol, too many carbohydrates, or fats – all affect how we feel and how our body deals with digestion. Therefore, avoid consuming heavy foods, caffeine, or alcohol 3-6 hours before bedtime. Fluid intake also has an impact on adequate rest. Of course, you should drink 2 litres of water every day, but schedule it during the whole day, e.g., drink a glass of water periodically earlier in the day. However, limit what you drink before bedtime – bladder pressure will wake you up, and you may find it difficult to fall back asleep.
5. Take care of emotions
Often in the evenings, when we lie in bed, we start to think about all sorts of problems, analyse the whole day, and think about matters that we cannot solve at this moment. This is normal, but you must be emotionally calm in order to fall asleep. Watching suspenseful movies just before going to bed is also not advisable. Sometimes we don’t realise how much our imagination affects our body. The accelerated heart rate, swirling thoughts, and anxiety prevent sleep or cause nightmares that may wake us up frequently and, as a result, we do not sleep effectively. Therefore, evening emotional stimuli should be avoided. Play relaxing music, meditate, pray, or do something that relaxes you and enjoy the peace!
6. Turn off the light
Do you have a TV in your bedroom? Seniors often use this medium all day long. It is important to realise that artificial prolongation of the day does not affect our sleep well, and the blue light devices emit prevents us from falling asleep because it affects our sense of sight. In addition, certain programs can arouse emotions, which, as we already know, are not good for our sleep. Another detail is that watching movies can extend into late-night hours and make you sleepless and tired, and this chronic condition can lead to insomnia.
You need to take care of seniors’ sleep, teaching them certain rituals that will help them to stay healthy as long as possible. All of this is so that they can enjoy health without medication. Good sleep means good health and comfortable functioning!