Sleep is important to the human body. A consistent sleep schedule is even more essential as we get older. A lack of sleep can lead to cognitive difficulties, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and heart disease. The elderly are even more susceptible to the effects of sleep deprivation, which is why seniors should always get the required amount of sleep every night.
Healthy sleeping habits help our bodies repair cell damage and improve memory formation and concentration. For seniors, sleep is a vital part of staying physically and mentally healthy. Here is some important information about the balance of sleep and why older individuals need to maintain good sleep hygiene.
Changes in Sleep Patterns as We Age
Our sleep patterns tend to change as we age. Many elderly individuals have a harder time falling asleep and they may wake up more in the middle of the night. In addition, seniors often wake up earlier. Overall, seniors spend less time in a deep sleep than younger individuals.
The causes of these changes in sleep patterns may include anxiety, the need to get up to urinate, and chronic pain or discomfort. Seniors who are very light sleepers may develop chronic insomnia. Left untreated, insomnia can lead to a myriad of health problems.
The Benefits of A Good Night’s Sleep
Getting the required amount of sleep will help seniors stay focused during the day, have better memory and cognitive abilities, and improve mood. Sleep also strengthens the immune system and can help prevent many diseases that often plague the elderly. Insufficient sleep can often lead to serious health conditions including breast cancer, weight problems, and cardiovascular disease.
Too much sleep can also be detrimental to your health. Excessive sleeping can cause drowsiness, irritability, depression, and cognitive decline in the elderly. Sleeping too much may even contribute to the onset of dementia.
How Much Sleep Do Seniors Need?
Older individuals should get between seven to nine hours of sleep every night. This can be a challenge for many seniors because sleep may not come as easily as it did in the younger years. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and avoiding distractions can help many older individuals get the right amount of rest.
How to Improve Your Sleeping Habits
Seniors should try to go to bed at the same time every night to establish a solid routine. It is best to avoid distractions such as electronics, loud noises, and bright lights when going to bed. A room that is a comfortable temperature and quiet is the ideal place to retire for the night.
Certain drugs can also interfere with sleep hygiene, so your doctor may need to make adjustments to your medications if they cause any difficulties. Seniors should also speak with their doctors to address any medical issues, as chronic pain and discomfort may also contribute to sleep deprivation.