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Ageing and Sleep

This entry was posted in General January 25, 2018

As we get older, our sleep patterns change, making it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep. Whilst our sleep patterns change throughout our life span, our sleep needs do not. Sleep occurs in multiple stages of active dreaming (REM), light and deep sleep. As we age, we spend more time in the lighter stages of sleep, meaning we might wake up more often during the night and feel more tired during the day as a result. As well as having fragmented sleep, experiencing a decline in REM sleep and taking longer to fall asleep, seniors also tend to become more tired earlier in the evenings and wake up earlier in the morning; this phenomenon is called advanced sleep phase syndrome. Another common phenomenon amongst seniors is that of insomnia, which may be present because of different reasons such as day napping, caffeine, medications and more. When suffering from insomnia, or any other sleep problems, it is always a good idea to speak to a doctor about the symptoms that you might be experiencing. Sleep is an important part of our life and it is fundamental to know how we can improve its quality through day to day activities, especially as we get older. Below are some tips on how to have a better night’s sleep.

Bed Quality

This is an important factor towards achieving a restful and comfortable night’s sleep; having the correct bed and mattress is something that can significantly impact your sleep pattern and quality. Choosing a bed that is right for you can be difficult, however, with a little help from our trained staff, the answer can be made much clearer. Not only does the right bed and mattress improve your sleep, it has also been linked to lowering stress-levels such as, nervousness, irritability, headaches, worrying thoughts, trembling and more. As we age, it is vital that we remain mentally healthy, as well as physically healthy. Our desire for a good night’s sleep shouldn't be compromised, options such as electric beds and orthopaedic beds can be a great solution for many. Adjustable beds can ensure a comfortable night’s sleep as they are specifically designed to relieve aches and pains such as muscle strain. They can also be adjusted quickly and easily to suit your comfort preferences and are proven to help with problems such as sleep apnea, heartburn, acid reflux, snoring and more; all of which can impair sleep.

Incontinence

Although incontinence is sometimes seen as an embarrassing topic, it can be comforting to know that a lot more people experience this issue than we may presume. In the United Kingdom, between 3 and 6 million people suffer from incontinence and many of them suffer in silence. Admitting that there is an issue and seeking advice are crucial steps, as incontinence can cause a great deal of discomfort and really affect your sleep. When struggling with incontinence it is important to remember that it is a very common issue and, for this reason, there are many options available for you to lead an active, comfortable and regular lifestyle. Continence pads and pants, for example, are a great and simple option to help manage this issue during the day and at night, as they ensure a more restful sleep by taking away the discomfort and worry of leaks. Other solutions that can help with bedtime incontinence are mattress covers and bed pads. Each will mean that you can have an uninterrupted sleep, without the worry of discomfort due to incontinence.                         

Nutrition

Research has shown that certain foods we consume interfere with sleep, such as products containing high caffeine levels as an obvious example. With an estimated 50% of those over the age of 65 suffering from sleeping difficulties, nutrition can seriously affect this figure. Changing or maintaining a healthy diet, full of nutrients, improves our brain’s health and in-turn means we are more likely to achieve a good night's sleep. Eating a healthy and balanced diet allows the body to absorb nutrients that provide the brain with a positive chemical environment; this is what is needed to produce neurotransmitters which are required to maintain an adequate sleep pattern. Not only is what we eat important for our sleep, but when we consume food too. Eating three hours before bed is often seen as the best option as you shouldn’t feel too hungry or full before you go to sleep. Going to sleep on an empty stomach on one hand, can cause a drop in your blood sugars, promoting insomnia and fragmented sleep. On the other hand, having a full stomach means your body is using a lot of energy for your digestion, leaving you restless. Food choices help to regulate our circadian rhythm over 24 hours, which keeps our body clock running, making us function effectively. A healthy metabolism is important and keeping a fairly consistent eating schedule can also improve your sleep.

Social Engagement and Sunlight

Previous studies have shown that older adults who participate in social engagement sleep better than others who do not. Although these are factors that we tend not to link together, just like health and diet choices, social activity can also have significant impact on sleep, especially when it comes to seniors. Along with social engagements, sunlight is one of the most influential external factors to affect sleep. Light affects our internal clock through light sensitive cells in the retina of our eyes. These cells tell the brain whether it is daytime or nighttime and sets our sleep patterns accordingly. Natural sunlight works with our bodies, however the amount of artificial light we now come into contact with can potentially impact our sleep pattern negatively. Both social engagement and the intake of natural sunlight can boost positive energy levels and work with our natural body clock which is a likely way to improve sleep pattern. Considering joining local social groups, possibly those who take place outdoors, could largely improve your quality of sleep.

At Ableworld we know how difficult it is to find the right products for your needs. Our highly trained staff will be happy to help you find exactly what you are looking for at the best price, use our store locator to find a branch near you.

 

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