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The Importance of Sleep for Older Adults

Dr, Donna Restivo

Posted on August 30 2018

Like most things in life, sleep is different for everyone. Some of us have the ability to melt into our pillows and fall into a deep slumber in a matter of seconds, while others have trouble shutting off the mind and resting the body, no matter how many sheep they count. While sleep is important for everyone, it is especially important for older adults due to several factors. Not only does a good night’s sleep improve concentration and memory formation, but it also helps your body repair cells that were damaged during the day prior. The repair of these cells refreshes your immune system, which ultimately helps prevent disease.

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There is a misconception that older adults need less sleep, but there are many reasons confirming that retirees need just as much sleep as youngsters. Memory loss-forgetfulness may already be an issue for you if you are getting up there in age, but a lack of sleep contributes to this even more. When you sleep, your body has a chance to store new information and facts. 

Injury risk-a lack of sleep makes you feel groggy, which makes you less likely to have a handle on your sense of balance. Because you are naturally less alert after a night of tossing and turning, you are more prone to falling or bumping into things that could lead to a greater injury. If you don’t rest fully, you will soon find out that your home becomes an obstacle course. 

Because seniors have more time on their hands, they are more likely to nap during the day. While napping can be a good source of mid-day rest, too many daytime z’s can lessen your chances of falling asleep at night. Try shortening your daily nap or omitting it completely, and you may find that your nighttime sleep patterns even out and you fall into a deeper sleep more quickly than before. 

Medications have a way of preventing a good night’s rest, and because seniors are often on at least one medication, their sleep patterns are vulnerable to some major disruptions. In some cases, you may be required to stay on a medication, but you need to outweigh the benefits with the cost. Is the lack of a good night of sleep more bothersome than the reasoning for your medication? Also keep in mind that poor sleep can lead to more long-term health issues.  

One of the best things you can do to cure your sleep problem, is to get on a schedule. Try going to bed at the same time every night and do your best to keep technology away from you night table. The more stimulated your brain during the minutes before you turn in, the longer it’s going to take you to shut that mind and body down.

 


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