Changes in an individual’s body occur as one ages but one’s sleeping pattern should not necessarily be one of them. In fact, seniors have the same 7 to 8 hours sleep requirement each night as a younger person does. However, 46% of adults who are 65 and older experience difficulty falling asleep and getting quality sleep through the night on a daily basis.
A lot of factors can cause sleep trouble among the elderly. Less hormones that help us sleep well are produced less by the body as one ages, moreover some seniors become more sensitive to environmental factors that disrupt sleep like noise and temperature. Parts of the brain that control sleep are affected by Parkinson’s disease or stroke as well. Meanwhile, arthritis and other health conditions can affect sleep quality as a result of chronic pain.
Additionally, seniors may also experience insomnia apart from falling asleep earlier than usual and waking up in the middle of the night. The lack of sleep can have a negative impact on their mood as well as lead to memory issues and weakness which may heighten their risk of falling.
All these point to making conscious steps to get quality sleep. Seeing a doctor, less afternoon naps, exercising regularly, reduced caffeine and alcohol intake, also making the bedroom as comfortable and conducive to rest are among the best ways to get the many benefits of quality rest.
The importance of sleep among seniors cannot be further emphasized given the reasons below.
1. Decreased risk of dementia
A study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society states that sleep duration is crucial to preventing dementia and even premature death. Its authors conclude that the maintenance of appropriate sleep duration, together with healthy habits, can be a significant way to prevent dementia in the elderly.
2. Improved immune system
Sleep allows our body much needed recovery and fight viruses and infections that we incur while we expend energy when awake. Full rest is vital to staying healthy as the lack of sleep suppresses the function of the immune system.
3. Repair of damaged cells and tissues
Immune system-boosting aside, sleep likewise allows our body time to heal. Our body basically devotes all energy to repair and restore the damage that the day has brought.
4.Healthy weight maintenance
Sleep and metabolism are related in the sense that they are controlled by the same areas of the brain. Hormones that make us sleepy are the same hormones that trigger hunger. One study finds that dieters who rested well lost 56% more fat than those who deprived themselves of good sleep.
5. Increased longevity
Sleep affects our lifespan. One of the most comprehensive studies done between sleep and longevity found that sleeping more than seven hours and less than five and a half hours decreases longevity.