People of every age need to get enough sleep to stay healthy, including older adults. Unfortunately, many seniors struggle with getting to sleep or staying asleep all night. Although it’s normal for people to wake up a few times per night, it becomes a problem when they cannot get back to sleep. There are several things that can wake older adults during the night. Knowing what they are may help to deal with the problems and allow your aging relative to sleep better.
Things That Cause Wakefulness
One of the things that could wake a senior up at night is physical problems. Lots of medical conditions have symptoms that seem to get worse at night. Some examples are:
- Pain: Conditions like arthritis, sickle cell disorder, heart failure, and cancer may all cause more pain in the nighttime hours than they do during the day.
- Breathing Problems: Breathing issues from lung conditions can be worse at night.
- Digestive Issues: Lying down can increase heartburn or worsen symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
- Brain and Nerve Diseases: Symptoms of conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s are often more prominent at night.
Many seniors also wake during the night to use the bathroom. Since getting to the bathroom can be difficult and time consuming if they have physical disabilities, it can cause them to wake so fully that they cannot get back to sleep.
Stress can also increase wakefulness. If your aging relative is worrying about something, like their health or how they will take care of themselves, they may lie awake at night.
Tips for Better Sleep
Experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend taking steps to improve the quality of sleep and sleep all night. Some of their suggestions are:
- Remove Clocks: Sometimes it can be harder to fall back to sleep when a clock reminds the older adult of the time and that they should be sleeping. Watching the clock can cause stress.
- Make Bedtime Relaxing: When it gets close to bedtime, encourage the older adult to engage in activities that are relaxing. Offer them a warm non-caffeinated beverage, such as herbal tea. Turn on some quiet music. Read, but not an ebook since the light emitted from the device’s screen can make it harder to sleep.
- Get Up: During the night, if the senior wakes up and cannot get back to sleep within 20 minutes, they should not lay in bed. Instead, they should get out of bed and go into a different room until they feel sleepy. Relaxing activities, like reading, may help.
If your aging relative has difficulty sleeping at night, it can keep family caregivers awake, too. That can be a problem if you have to get up in the morning to go to work or care for children. Senior care can stay overnight with older adults, so that family caregivers can get some sleep. During the night, if your family member gets up, the senior care provider can help them get to the bathroom and sit with them until they are able to get back to sleep. Senior care providers can also assist with the bedtime routine, ensuring the older adult switches to things that are relaxing.
If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Toms River, NJ, contact the caring staff at Care Street Home Care’s Ocean/Monmouth Division. Call today 732-719-7011.
Dr. Shelly, as he is fondly known, has served as an Alzheimer’s Support Group Facilitator in Mercer County and is a Certified Dementia Instructor. Knowledgeable, compassionate, and unusually devoted, his guidance is crucial in helping families understand their options and render decisions for their loved ones’ care plan. Dr. Shelly’s extensive experience, sincere and pleasant demeanor, and professional affiliations have made him a vital asset to Care Street.
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