A Brief Look at the Ideal Sleep Schedule for Aging Adults

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For many seniors, getting the appropriate amount of sleep at night can be challenging. Instead of falling asleep immediately, they tend to toss and turn all night long. As people age, their sleep schedules often change, not always for the better. Here is a look at the types of sleep and how seniors can manage a healthy sleep schedule.

The Two Types of Sleep

For seniors with insomnia, understanding sleep cycles is important. Experts split sleep into two distinct categories. The first is non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, which ranges from light to deep sleep. The second type of sleep is rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, where the eyes dart back and forth and the muscles are immobilized. This is the most active sleep stage, meaning it’s the stage where active dreams are most likely to occur. 

Over the course of one night, the body cycles between light and deep sleep. As people age, the amount of time spent in REM sleep tends to decrease. They also experience increased sleep fragmentation, which means they wake up multiple times throughout the night. These disruptions of the standard sleeping schedule leave many seniors feeling unsatisfied with their sleep. Lack of sleep or insufficient sleep can negatively affect a senior’s quality of life.

Maintaining a high quality of life can be challenging for some seniors, but professional caregivers can help them obtain this goal. Families can trust in Caledon, Ontario, non-medical senior care experts to help their elderly loved ones focus on lifestyle choices that increase the chances of living a longer and healthier life.

Sleep Regulation

There’s a reason most people feel awake in the daytime and sleepy at night. It’s because of the circadian biological clock, a 24-hour body rhythm that reacts to the sunlight. This clock is responsible for several biological processes, including the regulation of melatonin, a hormone that promotes healthy sleep. 

However, older people tend to produce and secrete less melatonin than younger people. This means their circadian rhythm may not function as well as it used to. Melatonin triggers the urge to sleep, but it doesn’t necessarily promote lasting, unbroken sleep. Seniors who find it difficult to fall asleep may want to try taking melatonin supplements a few hours before bedtime. 

Other Reasons for Poor Sleep

Changes in REM sleep and melatonin production can impact a senior’s sleep cycle. However, these aren’t the only reasons older adults have difficulty sleeping. They may wake up more often because they’re more sensitive to loud noises, they may be taking medications that disrupt their sleep schedule, or they may have medical conditions that make getting a full night’s sleep difficult. Despite these challenges, it doesn’t mean they can’t get an ideal amount of sleep. 

Caring for a loved one with poor sleep hygiene can be overwhelming at times. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Caledon, ON, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.

The Ideal Sleep Schedule for Seniors

Seniors should aim to get about seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Many seniors go to bed early and wake up early, which is fine as long as they’re getting the recommended amount of sleep per night. 

Older adults who are having difficulty sleeping should follow a regular schedule. They should try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, as it can keep the body in sync with the circadian clock. They should also try to get some natural light each day, as the circadian clock is affected by sunlight. It’s also important to establish a safe, comfortable sleep environment such as a quiet, well-ventilated bedroom.

Get in touch with Home Care Assistance to find out how a Caledon, ON, elderly caregiver can help your aging loved one live a longer, healthier, and happier life. Our caregivers are available 24/7, all of our senior care services come with a 100% satisfaction guarantee, and we never ask our clients to sign long-term contracts. Call us at 905-951-8885 to learn about our high-quality in-home care services.