you don't sleep well, how do you feel the next day? I can tell you how I
feel. I am sluggish, a little achy, my mind doesn't want to work as well
as normal, and I move slower. No matter how hard I try, I can't get up to
A lot of our elderly experience problems sleeping most of the time. I
can't imagine having that problem most of the time. Life just wouldn't be
as good as it should be. The elderly have enough problems to battle
without having to battle them while being tired all the time.
Then, there is the other extreme. Some elderly sleep too much. When I was
a young adult and in college, I did what every college student does. I
crammed for tests and stayed up all night. After finals, all I wanted to
do was sleep, but I found that after a few days I would get headaches, I
felt tired all the time and generally felt awful if I didn't stop
sleeping so much. A person can't function well if they get too much sleep,
Is there anything you, a family caregiver, can do to help your loved one
First of all, you should watch your loved ones sleep patterns. Some of the
questions you should ask are:
your loved one wake feeling good and rested?
they fall asleep when they are doing something they enjoy?
being tired affect their activities?
there any unusual behavior such as snoring, interrupted breathing, leg
we talk about what we can do to help our loved one get a night of better
sleep, we must understand some of the causes. We've heard that older
people don't sleep as long at night because they don't need as much sleep
as they did when they were younger. Is that true? From what I've read, it
is not true. In fact, everyone I talked with in preparing this column said
the elderly needed as much sleep as they did when they were a young adult
- somewhere between 7-1/2 hours to 8-1/4 hours a night.
When I was researching this article, I found there are various thoughts on
why the elderly don't sleep well at night. They seem to be going away from
the idea that it is simply because a person is aging, although they agree
that aging probably does play a part. There are also various thoughts and
ideas about how to help the elderly get a good night's sleep.
Some of the problems that can cause a person to not be able to sleep are:
Insomnia. The problem comes when it develops into a long-term pattern.
It's seems to develop into a circle with no end. Thinking of going to
bed becomes a source of anxiety rather than relaxation and sleep. The
anxiety alone causes the person to not be able to sleep well.
in Brain Chemicals
need to urinate frequently at night
Home and Hospital Environments
Factors. Sleep problems tend to run in families.
may help your loved one to sleep better, but they also may be a cause of
their not sleeping well. Some alternatives to medications are:
Friendly Person putting them to bed
to bed a little later each day until the desired bedtime hour is
reached (resetting the biological clock to the normal 24-hour period)
believe taking Melatonin helps, but this should be monitored by a
chi seems to help the elderly sleep better. It is a gentle exercise,
rather than strenuous.
to soft, slow, relaxing music at bedtime
ways to help your loved one sleep better:
would be nice if there was one simple solution to sleeping problems
in our elderly, but there isn't. Please take a little time to evaluate
your loved one's sleep habits and observe what may be causing them
problems. Be sure to talk to their doctor about the problem. Don't give
up. There might be a combination of things that will help them get a good
nights sleep and feel good in the daytime.
them stay mentally active with hobbies and social activities
physical activities in late afternoon or early evening
caffeine 3-4 hours before bedtime.
the side effects of medications
over-the-counter sleeping remedies unless the doctor tells them to
outdoors during the day
naps to no longer than 20 minutes
and bedtime should be at approximately the same time each day
let them spend too much time in bed
time to help them relax a while before bedtime