It’s fairly common for our sleep patterns to change as we continue to grow older. The common saying “sleeping like a baby” doesn’t hold true for senior adults.
Sleep is a vital part of daily life. And when our sleep patterns change, it’s not an easy adjustment. Some of the common reasons our need for sleep changes as we grow older include:
- Our body’s circadian rhythms (our natural 24-hour internal clock) can change, causing us to become tired earlier in the evening and to awaken earlier in the morning.
- The stages of our sleep patterns can change. Senior adults can spend more time in the lighter stages of sleep and less time in later, deeper sleep. That may lead to feeling like you didn’t get enough rest.
- Daytime naps can interrupt our need for nighttime sleep. Research shows that about 25 percent of the elderly nap during the day. If the nap is later in the afternoon or early evening, it’s more likely to interfere with falling asleep and staying asleep during the night.
- Feeling pain or the need to urinate during the night may also increase in older adults. Pain that causes a loss of sleep should be discussed with the senior’s physician. Needing to use the bathroom can be disruptive to sleep and commonly affects older adults as their urinary system can be affected by physical changes.
- Restless leg syndrome impacts up to 20 percent of older people, causing involuntary twitching in the legs and feet that can keep a person awake. Applying a warm or cool pack, avoiding caffeine, or massaging the legs may help but if the problem persists, your physician may prescribe a medication such as gabapentin.
Those are just a few reasons why the sleep pattern for the elderly may change. If you’re a caregiver for an aging family member living in their own home, it can be tiring to keep up with your loved one’s changing sleep pattern. In addition, the lack of sleep may make them less attentive during the day, prone to falls, mismanaging medications. leaving the stove turned on, or other household dangers.
At FootPrints Home Care, we’re here to help support you during the time your family member is still living at home. If or when the time comes that you need additional care for bathing, dressing, cooking, toileting, companionship and transportation. Whether it’s ongoing at-home senior care, 24/7 home care, or respite care for your senior loved one, we can support your family and allow seniors to live at home as long as possible.