Benefits to a Good Night Sleep
When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, it’s a question of both quantity and quality.
People of all ages need to get a certain amount of sleep in order to function well, but how well they sleep can also affect their energy level, attention, and mental processing.
The brain remains active during sleep, with “sleep events” occurring at different stages. Some sleep stages are necessary in order to feel well rested and energetic the next day, while research has shown that other sleep stages help with learning and to create memories.
Most adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. While the common belief is that elderly require less sleep, there is no proof to substantiate that. My personal observation, derived from working with seniors, is that they require and prefer more sleep for daily energy and functioning.
As we age, there is a tendency to spend less time in the deep, restful stages of sleep. Our elderly parents, for example, are more easily awakened and have difficulty returning to sleep.
As far as the quality of sleep, frequent awakenings can affect how well rested the individual will feel in the morning. This can affect one’s mood as well the ability to think clearly, react quickly, and creatively problem solve. Relationships can suffer when sleep is poor, and one’s immune system can be adversely affected, leaving the individual vulnerable to infection and illness.
Here are just some easy recommendations for getting a better night’s sleep:
· Stick to a sleep schedule – go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends
· Avoid caffeine and nicotine. This includes coffee, tea, cola and chocolate.
· Stay away from alcohol before bedtime.
· Don’t eat large meals late at night.
· Avoid medicines that delay or interrupt your sleep, if at all possible. This includes some heart, blood pressure, asthma, cough, cold and allergy medications. Discuss this with a physician.
· Don’t take naps after 3 p.m.
· Relax before going to bed.
· Take a hot bath at night.
· Have a good sleeping environment – keep the room cool and dark, turn off the TV.
· Try to get outside in natural sunlight for at least 30 minutes each day. (Staff at Home Care Partners can certainly assist — by walking with elders, socializing, and minor exercise.)
· Don’t lie in bed awake. If you can’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get up and do something relaxing like reading.
· See a sleep specialist if you continue to have difficulty sleeping.
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John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions.
Phone: (781) 378-2164