Friday, March 28, 2014

How to Help Your Senior Overcome Insomnia

Unfortunately, insomnia is a common complaint among seniors, even for those who are otherwise healthy. Your loved one may run out of energy earlier, wake up throughout the night, or fail to feel rested after a long night’s sleep. Over time, insomnia can contribute to other health issues, both physical and mental. Sufficient rest is essential for good senior health, so it’s important to face any sleep-related problems quickly before they’re allowed to progress and persist. 

Home care professionals explain that facing bouts of insomnia occasionally is normal, but if a senior regularly struggles to fall asleep or stay asleep they may actually be dealing with a sleep disorder that requires medical treatment. Signs of a sleep disorder include:

  • Relying on sleeping pills or alcohol to go to sleep
  • Irritability throughout the day
  • Failure to feel refreshed after sleeping a sufficient amount
  • Trouble getting back to sleep after waking up
  • Trouble falling asleep, despite feeling tired

In the case of insomnia, senior care professionals explain that there are often a number of different underlying yet treatable causes. Such causes include:

  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Chronic anxiety
  • Medication
  • A recent traumatic experience
  • Health problems
  • A poor pre-bed routine
  • Chronic pain
  • Lack of exercise

According to those who work in at-home care, Chapel Hill families can help their senior to sleep better by encouraging the following habits:

  • Cutting down on caffeine usage. Many people are highly sensitive to caffeine, and find that even a cup of coffee consumed in the afternoon keeps them up at night.
  • Discontinuing the use of electronic devices before bed. The light from tablets, computers, and TV screens can keep the brain awake, making sleep hard to come by.
  • Establishing the proper sleep environment. The bedroom should be cool, quiet, and dark in order to make it easier to fall asleep.

If problems with sleep still persist even after these changes, it’s time to consult with a medical professional. Quality sleep is important for your senior’s physical and mental well-being, so any issues with insomnia need to be addressed quickly.

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