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Why sleep is critical for the elderly


As you grow older a number of things change, from your energy levels to your sleep requirements. Most people find they sleep less as they get older, waking earlier and struggling to get back to sleep. However, while this may seem like a natural progression the reality is that sleep is critical for the elderly and many are not getting enough of it.

Ageing involves a number of changes, both physical and mental. As you creep up toward 60 you will notice that you are sleeping less and many will start experiencing trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep. There are a number of reasons that the elderly struggle to sleep, from basic issues like the fact that they are often less active through to the microscopic physiological changes that are occurring throughout their bodies. While there are many causes they all mean the same thing, that the elderly are missing out the sleep that is vital for their physical and mental well being.

The more we learn about sleep the more we have come to understand how central a role it plays in our overall health. Sleep plays a part in almost every aspect of body’s and mind’s functioning, from helping embed memories through to regulating our appetite, from helping cellular regeneration through to managing emotional states. Lack of sleep, even an hour or two less in a single night, can throw us, so if the elderly are missing sleep each and every night these problems can start to compound.

Sleep is essential for our body to rebuild and rejuvenate and continuous lack of sleep can cause negative effects – both physical and mental. Remedies for this sort of disorder are varied. One can opt for medical ways, which of course involves taking medicines, but generally speaking it is not a good idea to take sleeping pills for anything less than a short period, as you will build up a dependency and will struggle to sleep without them.

The best thing for the elderly is to follow the tried and true methods of helping them sleep that work for people of all ages. These include exercising during the day to make themselves more tired, creating a good sleep environment and eating and drinking the right foods and beverages.  While each of these on their own can help they are better used in conjunction. Every individual is different and they will need to use a variety of different methods to try and get enough quality sleep.

Just because you are not sleeping as much as you have grown older it doesn’t mean that your body and mind do not need the sleep. In fact as you get older and you require more rest and recuperation sleep actually becomes more important. Don’t lie awake at night, find ways that help you sleep better, make sure that you try exercise, changing your sleep environment and moderating your diet, these can all help.

Don’t lose sleep, do something about it so that you can get the quality sleep you need.

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