Sleep is a vital part of healthy living no matter your age. It gives the body the time it needs to reset and recharge itself from all the activities we do during the day. But it’s not just the physical benefits that make sleep so important. In fact, research shows that better sleep is directly linked to better mental health.
Think about how you feel after a good night’s rest. Refreshed? Calm? Alert? Contrast this feeling to how you feel when you haven’t slept well. In all likelihood, you feel foggy, irritable and fatigued. Overtime, a lack of sleep in seniors can also lead to growing feelings of anxiety, stress and depression, as well as cognitive or memory issues.
Common Sleep Disorders in Seniors
Most adults and seniors require seven to eight hours of sleep each night to feel rested. However, as you age, you may notice changes in your sleep patterns. For many, these sleep changes are just a natural part of aging, as the production of sleep essential hormones such as melatonin decrease as we age. As a result, seniors often report getting tired earlier in the evening, waking up earlier in the morning or in the middle of the night, and insomnia, i.e. having trouble both falling asleep, and staying asleep.
Some medications such as antidepressants and beta-blockers can also contribute to sleep issues, as can health conditions such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, or prostate issues in men. Sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome (RLS) and periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) can also impact your ability to get a healthy night’s rest.
Sleep and Mental Health in Seniors
If you or a loved one is having issues getting a full seven to eight hours of sleep each night, it’s important to speak with your doctor as over time, poor sleep can impact your health both physically and mentally. Here are just some of the ways healthy sleep can lead to a healthy mind:
- Improves memory and cognitive function. Research shows that sleep is necessary to consolidate memories so they can be recalled later on, and sleep benefits both short-term and long-term memory.
- Increases your ability to concentrate. Sleep also makes it easier to concentrate and focus the next day. As a result, this makes it easier for us to learn new things. This is one of the main reasons doctors place such a high focus on school age children getting adequate sleep.
- Speeds up your ability to process thoughts. Restful sleep makes us more alert and can increase reaction times. This is particularly important for seniors who drive.
- Boosts your mood. A lack of sleep can lead to increased feelings of depression and anxiety. It can also make us more prone to anger and irritability.
How to Sleep Well
Luckily good sleep doesn’t have to be hard to achieve. Here are some simple tips for seniors who are struggling to get the recommended amount of sleep each night:
- Follow a strict bedtime routine in which you go to bed and wake up the same time each day, even weekends.
- Avoid napping longer than 20 minutes at a time during the day.
- Only use your bedroom for sleep or sex—and avoid watching TV or eating in bed at night.
- Limit use of alcohol in the evening. While a nightcap may make you feel sleepy at first, drinking too close to bedtime can impact your sleep cycle.
- Stay active during the day and follow a regular exercise routine.
- Engage in stress reducing activities during the day such as yoga or meditation.
Healthy, Happy Senior Living at Symphony Senior Living
Healthy sleep starts with healthy living. That’s why at Symphony Senior Living we ensure every senior has access to the services and amenities they need to stay active and healthy. In our assisted living community, all residents receive a complete health assessment upon their arrival so we can create a care plan customized to individual needs. Additionally, residents enjoy regular exercise programs, social activities and nutritious dining options for healthy and worry-free living. Contact us today to learn more about our community living options and services for seniors.