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The Importance of Sleep for Aging Adults

I know I write many blogs about awareness themes for specific months, weeks, and days, but it is vitally important that we keep certain topics, like health conditions, in mind so we can all do our best to monitor and engage our loved ones with exciting breakthroughs, fascinating facts, and fun trivia whenever possible.

[Yawn] This month, Daylight Saving Time (DST) begins, meaning we Spring Forward by setting our clocks ahead one hour causing a loss of sleep. That said, I know I am not the only one who endures the consequences. After all, studies have shown that there are serious detrimental effects from the time changes from standard time to DST.

An article published by Northwestern Medicine explains, “We know that sleep deprivation is bad for your physical and cognitive health. The transition to DST can create short-term health problems – sleep issues, fatigue and changes in blood pressure – that feel like prolonged jet lag.”

In addition, DST has been linked to long-term health effects that include:

  • Depression
  • Slowed metabolism
  • Weight gain
  • Cluster headaches
  • Cognitive disorders
  • Mental health issues
  • Digestive conditions
  • Heart diseases

If you already suffer from these issues, DST and the time change can make them worse.

Considering all of the negative health effects associated with DST, it’s important to recognize the importance of sleep for aging adults.

“There are many reasons why older people may not get enough sleep at night. Feeling sick or being in pain can make it hard to sleep. Some medicines can keep you awake. No matter the reason, if you don’t get a good night’s sleep, the next day you may be irritable, have memory problems or be forgetful, feel depressed, or have more falls and accidents,” says the National Institute on Aging (NIA).

It is recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night, but that’s not always easy.

The NIA shared the following tips for getting a good night’s sleep:

  • Follow a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, including on the weekends and when traveling.
  • Avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening if at all possible. Late-day naps may keep you awake at night.
  • Create a bedtime routine. Take time to relax before bedtime each night. For example, you could try reading a book, listening to soothing music or nature sounds, or taking a warm bath or shower.
  • Eliminate screen time at least one hour before you go to bed. The lights from electronic devices like cell phones, computers and tablets can make it difficult to calm your mind and can prevent you from falling asleep. Also, scary or disturbing television programs may also keep you awake.
  • Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature. You do not want the bedroom climate to be too hot or too cold, although a cooler temperature may enhance your quality of sleep.
  • Use low lighting in the evenings as you prepare for bed.
  • Exercise at regular times each day, but not within 3 hour of your bedtime.
  • Avoid eating large meals close to bedtime. It may keep you awake.
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day. For obvious reasons, coffee, tea, soda and chocolate that contain caffeine can keep you awake.
  • Alcohol won’t help you sleep! Even small amounts make it harder to stay asleep.

The NIA also suggests ways to create a safe and restful place to sleep, “Make sure you have smoke alarms on each floor of your home.”

Additionally, you should keep a telephone with emergency phone numbers by your bed; have a lamp within reach that is easy to turn on; keep a glass of water next to the bed in case you wake up thirsty; and remove area rugs so you won’t trip if you must get out of bed during the night.

Congress is currently in bipartisan discussions and is considering doing away with these annual time changes which would benefit citizens of all ages across the country.

In the meantime, if Home Helpers can provide aid and support with any number of in-home care services that will help make life easier for you or a senior loved one, I am available to schedule a FREE Consultation at your convenience to assess specific needs and create a customized care plan.

We, at Home Helpers® Clearwater, are honored to have been ranked among the Home Care Pulse Top 100 Leaders in Experience for home care providers in 2023 and to have received the Best of Home Care® Provider of Choice Award 2023, the Best of Home Care® Employer of Choice Award 2023, and the Best of Home Care® Leader in Experience Award 2023.

We proudly serve male and female seniors in Clearwater, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Safety Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Holiday, New Port Richey, Trinity, Port Richey, Hudson, and surrounding areas. Home Helpers®…we are Making Life Easier℠ 727.942.2539


Northwestern Medicine

National Institute on Aging