Can Aging Affect Sleep Quality?

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Aging is a natural process that has the potential to affect all body systems and cause various functional changes. Seniors often notice alterations in sleeping patterns as they become older. Family members can intervene on behalf of older adults to ensure they get seven to nine hours of sleep nightly.

Changes in Sleep Classifications

Sleep is commonly categorized as rapid eye movement (REM) sleep or non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. REM sleep is recognized as the phase when someone is dreaming. NREM sleep is further categorized into three phases known as N1, N2, and N3. During these stages, brain waves change in size and speed. N1 indicates light sleep. N2 suggests the individual has fallen into a deeper sleep. N3 represents the deepest sleep phase and causes slow brain waves. As adults age, they tend to have shorter periods of N3 sleep. The phase also occurs less frequently. Thus, seniors sleep more lightly and are more easily awakened.

Circadian Rhythm Difference

Circadian rhythms prepare an individual for sleep by encouraging the release of melatonin when the sun sets. However, in aging adults, circadian rhythms may change along with the messages occurring in the brain. The alterations are believed to cause some older adults to go to bed earlier in the evening and awaken earlier in the new day. These changes aren’t necessarily a problem unless they cause seniors to sleep for fewer hours at night. Melatonin supplements help some seniors overcome the problem, while bright light therapy may benefit others.

Pain & Sleep Disruption

Numerous older adults complain they cannot fall asleep or remain asleep at night without interruptions. Many different medical conditions can be the underlying causes. Seniors living with arthritis or other musculoskeletal ailments experience chronic pain and mobility issues that can interfere with the body’s ability to stay comfortable and relaxed throughout the night. Make sure your older loved one has adequate pain control. For some older adults, increased physical activity may alleviate stiffness and soreness while encouraging the body to relax at night. 

A home caregiver can be a wonderful source of support if your loved one needs help making healthy lifestyle changes that enhance his or her ability to sleep well. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Richardson, TX, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.

Emotional & Psychological Interference

Seniors with anxiety or depression may lack the ability to quiet their thought processes to allow their bodies to relax and fall asleep. Families might consider trying to determine the underlying reasons for their loved ones’ distress and offer reassurance. Older adults living with emotional problems may need counseling and medication. 

For seniors with anxiety that makes it difficult to sleep through the night, having a professional caregiver close by can provide a sense of comfort. Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality elder care. Trust Home Care Assistance to help your elderly loved one age in place safely and comfortably.

Sleep Apnea

Many aging adults live with undiagnosed sleep apnea. During the night, seniors with sleep apnea often stop breathing for a few seconds, then gasp for breath and resume snoring until the next episode occurs. The periods of breathlessness deprive the body of oxygen, which can lead to many different serious conditions, including cardiovascular disease. The condition also prevents seniors from enjoying restful sleep, which causes fatigue during the day. A lack of adequate restful sleep may also impair cognitive function. Affected seniors must consult their physicians for diagnosis and treatment. 

When you understand the causes of your loved one’s sleep difficulties, you may be able to help him or her sleep better and enhance his or her overall wellbeing. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional senior care. Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life. Schedule a free in-home consultation by giving us a call today at (469) 573-4213.

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