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Why Good Sleep Hygiene Is Important for Seniors

By Ted Holmgren, 9:00 am on May 29, 2017

Elderly people need seven to nine hours of sleep at night. However, circadian rhythm disorders and medical conditions prevent older people from getting an adequate amount of sleep. Good sleep hygiene focuses on the quantity and quality of sleep and helps protect a senior’s mental and physical health, quality of life, and personal safety.

Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional non-medical home care. Chandler, AZ, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life. Here are a few reasons maintaining good sleep hygiene is important for aging adults.

Vital for Brain Function

The brain needs rest to function properly and develop new neural pathways, which are necessary for memory and learning. Having a healthy brain helps seniors learn new hobbies and solve complex problems. 

A well-rested brain also allows seniors to express creativity, make decisions, or simply pay attention to their surroundings. The inability to stay alert prevents seniors from responding promptly to various situations, which could lead to injury. 

Insufficient sleep can affect mood and make seniors irritable, angry, or prone to depression. They might also engage in impulsive behaviors that compromise their safety.

Boosts Physical Wellbeing

Like their younger counterparts, older adults also need sleep to maintain physical health. Sleep gives the body time to repair blood vessels, the heart, muscles, and other tissues. Habitual sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease. Inadequate sleep also contributes to obesity. 

During sleep, the endocrine system regulates the flow of hormones throughout the body. The hormone ghrelin regulates hunger, and leptin maintains energy balance. Due to insufficient sleep, ghrelin levels increase and leptin levels drop, which increases the likelihood of weight gain. Sleep also controls how the body responds to insulin. Inadequate sleep causes a rise in blood sugar levels and over time may lead to diabetes. Apart from enabling physical growth in the younger years, growth hormones aid in the body’s ability to perform repairs. The immune system also functions more efficiently when seniors get plenty of sleep. 

Lack of sleep can lead to a number of health issues in aging adults. Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in home care. Chandler seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.

Enhances Daytime Function and Safety

An adequate amount of sleep is necessary to prevent older adults from feeling fatigued during daylight hours. It also ensures seniors react appropriately to possible hazards and provides them with energy to carry on normal activities. 

Poor sleep hygiene often causes a condition known as microsleep, which occurs while people are awake. Older adults are typically not aware of the episodes when they happen. An example of microsleep includes driving down a stretch of road and not remembering the journey. When a microsleep event occurs, older adults may miss important information relayed by a physician. Experiencing microsleep while driving may prohibit a senior from reacting appropriately, which increases the risk of accidents. The condition can also affect the job performance of a senior who is employed.

According to several studies, poor sleep hygiene can lead to dementia. Lack of sleep damages the brain over time and speeds up cognitive decline. Many families have no experience in specialized home care for seniors, which can make life a bit more challenging when an elderly loved one is diagnosed with dementia. The Chandler, AZ, dementia care experts at Home Care Assistance are here to help. We designed a program called the Cognitive Therapeutics Method, which uses mentally engaging activities to slow the progression of dementia, and all of our live-in and respite caregivers are expertly trained in dementia care. If your aging loved one needs assistance with daily activities or you need a break from your caregiver duties, give us a call at 480.448.6215 today.