Home Care Blog>In Home Care | March 15, 2022
Battling Sleep Changes As We Age | As we age, we often experience normal changes in our sleeping patterns. But disturbed sleep, waking up tired every day, and other symptoms of insomnia are not a normal part of aging. Why does sleep change as we age and what is normal?
It’s important for caregivers to understand that even the healthiest seniors find that their sleep habits change. At any age, insomnia is the most common sleep complaint, but for adults over the age of 65 even more so. In fact, one out of every four senior adults reports symptoms of poor sleep. And while a good many seniors may feel like insomniacs, some of the symptoms that they experience are because in reality, as we age we don’t ‘sleep like we used to.’
For one, aging adults feel sleepy earlier in the evening and wake up earlier in the morning. Changes in our circadian rhythm, the internal body clock that regulates sleep and waking, are responsible for this change in sleep pattern called advanced sleep phase syndrome. Also quite normally, the older we get the more likely we are to become ‘light sleepers.’ Physiologically, our aging bodies produce lower levels of the growth hormone melatonin which is the cause for a decrease in deep sleep. Not only do we spend less time in deeper sleep cycles, but we spend less time sleeping on the whole – about half an hour less on average. Healthy older people tend to awake during the night, too, so that on any given night, an older person sleeps 15 percent less than someone younger. And it generally takes longer for seniors to fall asleep.
Regardless, sleeping well is especially important for the physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of your senior loved one. Caregivers of seniors should know that while changes such as these take some getting used to, they don’t mean that your senior should spend the night tossing and turning and not getting a good night’s sleep. So how do increase his or her chances of getting a good night’s sleep when these normal changes are impacting the senior in your care?
Most cases of so called insomnia in elderly people can be remedied with some common sense solutions. If your senior’s sleep issues are not the result of more serious health conditions such as sleep apnea, RLS (restless leg syndrome), depression, heartburn, arthritis or the side effects of various medications that he or she may take — all which require intervention of a medical professional for treatment.
As always, if your senior’s health situation changes and he or she has frequent, chronic sleep problems, talk to their doctor. But these simple-to-follow steps may do the trick to help your senior loved one sleep soundly through the night.
Comfort Keepers can help. Our caregivers can provide wellness support, remind clients to take medication, provide transportation to scheduled appointments, and support physician-prescribed exercise regimens and diets. As part of an individualized care plan, caregivers can let a senior’s care team know if there are changes in behavior or physical characteristics. Our goal is to see that clients have the means to find the joy and happiness in each day, regardless of age or acuity.
To learn more about our in-home care services, contact your the Comfort Keepers Calgary location today.
‘How do my sleep habits change as I age?’ by Molly Edmonds, Discovery Health, http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/aging/aging-process/sleep/aging.htm
‘Insomnia in Older Adults. Tips for Sleeping Better as You Age’, HELPGUIDE.org, http://www.helpguide.org/life/sleep_aging.htm
‘Aging and Sleep’, National Sleep Foundation, firstname.lastname@example.org