Aging and age-related illnesses and conditions can cause changes in sleep patterns, from decreases in deep sleep to waking up during the night. March 8-14 is National Sleep Awareness Week and a good time for caregivers to ensure that the seniors in their care have healthy sleep habits, also known as sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is a person’s sleep schedule and environment. Poor sleep hygiene—irregular sleep hours, a noisy or uncomfortable sleep environment, or too much napping during the day—can lead to insomnia in the elderly.
Help your senior clients get a good night’s rest by offering them these simple tips to follow to improve their sleep hygiene.
Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule
Set a regular bedtime, as well as a time to wake up, and keep to this schedule, even on weekends. The National Sleep Foundation offers a sleeping tool that conveniently calculates what time you should go to sleep or wake up based on the number of sleeping hours you want. Helping your clients maintain a regular sleep schedule is important for both physical and mental health. It can also improve productivity and overall quality of life.
Keeping an exercise routine and regularly engaging in social activities will help prepare the body for a restful night of sleep. As little as ten minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, can drastically improve nighttime sleep quality. Axxess Home Care enables agencies to create and include custom Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) on visit notes, so caregivers can ensure clients are encouraged to be active during the day.
Get a Little Sunshine
Sunlight increases melatonin, which helps to regulate sleep cycles. Ensure your clients get a moderate amount each day. This is particularly important for people who may not venture outside frequently. Exposure to sunlight during the day, as well as darkness at night, helps to maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
Eliminate Noises at Bedtime
A noisy sleep environment can disturb sleep cycles. Using earplugs or a white noise machine can reduce noise and help aid sleep. In addition to limiting noise at bedtime, it is also a good idea to make sure your clients’ sleep environment is pleasant in other ways. Bright light from lamps, cell phones and TV screens can make it difficult to fall asleep, so encourage clients to turn those off or adjust them when possible.
Reduce Caffeine Intake
Caffeine is a stimulant designed to keep you awake. Cutting down on caffeine, particularly when close to bedtime, can help you feel more tired and ready for sleep. Axxess Home Care’s custom visit notes ensure that caregivers provide these helpful reminders to clients to promote better sleep habits and overall health.
A stressed mind can get in the way of a good night’s sleep. Encouraging clients who are experiencing anxiety to keep a journal, listen to calming music, or participate in other peaceful activities can help ease troubled minds and induce sleep.
Some sleep problems may also be caused by medical conditions, side effects of medications, or even pain. If a client is experiencing poor sleep habits even with proper sleep hygiene, make certain a physician is consulted. Help your caregivers and clients promote healthy sleep habits this week so they can get the rest of their dreams.