World Sleep Day 2021: Here's A Guide For Older Adults To Sleep Better At Night
World Sleep Day 2021: Improving the quality of sleep for seniors can alleviate many health issues. Here are some tips that can help ensure a good night's sleep.
World Sleep Day 2021: A good night's sleep allows your body to function properly
- World sleep day highlights the importance of good sleep
- A healthy lifestyle promote good sleep cycle
- Avoid use of gadgets before bed to sleep better
As the old adage goes, there is nothing that a good night's rest cannot fix. This rings true, especially for older adults. Quality sleep for seniors can improve immune functions, cognitive abilities and reduce daytime fatigue. Yet, people find themselves experiencing poorer sleep quality as they age despite having more time to snooze. Seniors need 7-9 hours of quality sleep, just like their younger counterparts. But studies indicate that percentage of Indians having sleep disorders like insomnia is as high as 33%.
There are many reasons why seniors may struggle with getting enough rest. For one, ageing disrupts hormones that directly regulate sleep cycles. Levels of melatonin, popularly dubbed the 'sleep hormone', dip with age. Seniors are also susceptible to chronic conditions that can cause disturbed sleep. For instance, nearly 45% of Indian women over the age of 65 exhibit symptoms of osteoarthritis, a rather painful condition.
Despite the odds, however, elders don't have to be doomed to poor sleep and consequent fatigue all the time. There are many tricks to improving sleep quality for seniors.
Here are 5 hacks to improve sleep at night for elders
1. Get some sun
Exposure to light is essential for a healthy circadian rhythm and melatonin production. Seniors often tend to spend a lot of time indoors.
Tip: Take early morning strolls in the sun. If movement is a problem, keep the curtains drawn throughout the day to let the light in.
2. Drink less fluids at night
Nocturia, or night-time urination, is a common condition among seniors. Over 70% of seniors aged 70+ wake up more than once at night to urinate. This is one of the most common reasons for disrupted sleep cycles. As long as nocturia is not related to other health conditions like a bladder infection or diabetes, there are ways to limit its impact on sleep. Restricting fluid intake closer to bedtime can reduce the urge to urinate. Sometimes, elevating the legs while sleeping can also help by reducing fluid build-up in the lower body.
Tip: Pelvic-strengthening exercises can greatly improve bladder control.
3. Regulate room temperature
A comfortable temperature can promote good sleep. While different people may have different preferences, experts suggest 65 degrees Fahrenheit or about 18 degrees Celsius to be the ideal sleep temperature. One way to lower core body temperature is to wear socks to bed. This reduces heat loss through the feet and regulates body temperature that can aid sound sleep.
Tip: Wear breathable, cotton socks in summer to keep sweat at bay.
4. De-stress before bed
It is no secret that anxiety and stress can disrupt sleep at night. For seniors, a racing mind can spell disaster. Cultivating a bedtime routine can prep the body for a good night's rest. This can include reading, some family bonding time or a comforting bath. Even massages can help alleviate pain, boost blood circulation and destress the body to shut down for rest at night.
Tip: Massage the feet with a simple oil like coconut or sesame oil for 3-5 minutes before bed for some added relaxation.
5. Find the right mattress
Sometimes, finding the right mattress can be a magical solution to improving sleep quality. Since an ageing body has many kinks, chinks and aches that can disrupt sleep, a comfortable and supportive mattress can be just what's needed. A medium-firm mattress that neither too hard nor too soft may the right choice for seniors struggling with pain or bodily discomfort.
Tip: Change your mattress every 6-8 years.
The sleep solution
Insufficient sleep for elders doesn't only increase fatigue but can also increase the risk of falls and accidents, and compromise overall health. While many seniors are quick to take a pill to solve their sleep issues, there are natural ways to fix sleep patterns. Apart from the tips mentioned above, regular exercise, healthy dietary habits and good sleep hygiene can go a long way in improving nighttime rest.
(Dr. Nikkilesh Anand is a Consulting Geriatric Physician at Alserv)
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