Sleep deprivation is a common condition in the elderly. As the body ages, it produces less growth hormone which is the hormone that helps you experience a deep sleep. With less of this type of sleep, also known as slow wave sleep, your body produces less melatonin. This hormone helps the body remain asleep at night. It may also cause your parent to become tired earlier in the evening and wake up earlier in the morning, and a vicious cycle erupts. Less sound sleep leads to more napping, which leads to less sound sleep.
Practically everyone at some time in their life has experienced the effects of a sleepless night. The next morning you may find yourself groggy, disjointed, easily irritated and tired. When an interrupted sleep cycle becomes the norm, those symptoms become more severe. Tiredness leads to the inability to stay awake and possibly falling asleep at the wheel. Irritation leads to anger and a decreased quality of life. Groggy leads to imbalance and an increased susceptibility to falls.
Fortunately, there are steps your loved one can take that will help ensure a better night’s sleep. These include:
- Minimize water and food intake before bed and help them to remember to go to the bathroom before getting in bed.
- Limit the consumption of alcohol, caffeine and nicotine.
- Set a sleep schedule for your parent. A regular schedule helps the body adjust and expect sleep at a set time. This may require setting the alarm in the morning until it becomes automatic. Limit napping in this schedule to 20 or 30 minutes in the early afternoon. This, of course, is null and void if your parent has a specific illness that makes them chronically tired.
- Make a relaxing bedtime ritual. This could mean a warm bath with Epsom salts and lavender, a cup of relaxing herbal tea, listening to relaxing music, reading an enjoyable book—any or all of these activities, as long as they become a routine.
- Limit the use of a television, computer or cell phone right before bed and try to keep the environment relaxing and stress free.
- If your parent wakes up in the middle of the night often, set them up with ear phones and a way to listen to relaxing audio recordings designed to help you sleep. There are hundreds of these recordings on YouTube.
- A regular exercise program can help with sleeping issues. Just make sure your parent does not exercise three hours before bed.
- If your loved one continues to experience insomnia, make an appointment with their primary health care provider who can discuss options and check their medications for any potential combinations that may be contributing to the inability to go to sleep or remain there.
Senior Care Provider
If your parent’s sleepless nights make them unable to perform everyday activities, consider the services of a senior care provider. They can assist with daily tasks, help them remain active throughout the day, and encourage a nightly relaxing bedtime ritual to help your parent return to a peaceful night’s sleep.
If you or an aging loved-one is considering in-home senior care in Fairmont, PA, please contact the caring staff at Assisting Hands of Central Philadelphia. 215-274-0900.
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- Helping your Parent who Suffers from Sleep Deprivation - May 31, 2017