Sleep and Seniors

There is a common belief that senior citizens don’t require as much sleep as middle-aged adults. While they may not need quite as much, this information can be misleading because seniors often wake up more often during the night or find sleep interrupted by common sleep problems like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome.

So, even if seven hours is enough sleep for senior citizens in a 24-hour period, they may not get that full seven hours by spending seven hours in bed at night.

One of the ways to ensure that the amount of sleep for seniors is sufficient is regular naps. Even a five-minute nap can make a difference in circadian rhythms, and that can decrease the chance of senior sleep problems. These mini-naps during the day can be a great way to make sure the sleep seniors are getting throughout the day is enough.

If it seems you are sleeping all day and all night and just waking up for a little bit now and then, you may be wondering what is too much sleep for senior citizens. There is no magic number that is “too much” but if you feel you are sleeping more than you used to or are experiencing an increase over time that has become noticeable, you may be waking up more during the night and not realizing it. It is possible you are suffering from sleep apnea and should visit a doctor to discuss your increase in sleep. Also, if you are falling asleep multiple times but always waking up feeling groggy and fatigued, that might be a sign of a sleep disorder.

If you have a live-in or even part-time nurse (or have a family member living with you) ask them to keep an eye on you when you sleep. Have them note if you are moving and shifting in your sleep more, if you stop breathing while you are asleep, if you seem restless when you are asleep, or if anything else out of the ordinary is happening while you are asleep. When you talk to your doctor you can be armed with this information and it will give the doctor a better idea of what is going on with your sleep cycle.

Caregivers for seniors need to get good sleep to do a good job, too. If you find you need help sleeping for senior care, start by tracking how much time you are sleeping in a night. If you are not well rested as the caregiver, you will not be able to address seniors and sleep problems with a clear head and a willingness to help. Caregivers being well rested is essential for senior health. If you are caring for multiple seniors and sleep problems are making you foggy and stressed, look into getting help from outside, perhaps a part time nurse, so you can be a better caregiver to your seniors as well as make sure you keep your health in check.

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