If your parent hasn’t been sleeping well, rest assured that it’s normal (though frustrating for certain). In fact, you may not be sleeping well yourself. The older we become, the more we are prone to having sleep problems. A 2003 poll from the National Sleep Foundation found that 44% of participants struggled with insomnia several times a week or more.
While no one knows exactly what causes sleep disturbances to rise with age, research points in the direction of changing sleep architecture. Basically, older people spend more time in the light stages of sleep rather than deep sleep. This results in frequent wakings and groggy mornings.
Since just about all of us can benefit from a better night’s sleep, it’s important to get acquainted with the tips below. As a caregiver, you certainly want all the rest you can get. But you also want to encourage your parent to get regular sleep to prevent stress, fatigue and illness.
Let’s explore some helpful tips for a good night’s rest.
Develop a Consistent Routine
Consistency is key. Create a dependable routine that your loved one can follow at night. For example, dinner around 6 pm followed by an evening walk, a warm bath and a book before turning off the lights around 9 pm. Make sure that your loved one wakes up at the same time each morning as well. This helps the body adjust to a more stable routine of sleep-wake patterns.
Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment
The bedroom is a place to sleep, but too many people use them to watch TV, play on their tablets, eat a midnight snack and more. Identify what can be changed in the bedroom to make it solely for sleeping. Window darkening shades can help keep the room dark and drown out noise, while turning down the thermostat can keep the temperature cool and comfortable.
Use a White Noise Machine
Some people enjoy sleeping with noise, but you shouldn’t be leaving the TV on in the background, especially since your loved one may not be falling into a deep sleep. Try a white noise machine or white noise app that plays soothing sounds like ocean waves, thunderstorms or plain white noise.
Get Some Exercise
If your loved one doesn’t do enough during the day, it may be hard for them to feel tired at night. Encourage them to take just one brisk walk a day so that they get fresh air and sunlight. This will help them feel energized during the day to do more things, and then they will be more tired at nighttime.
Watch Food and Beverages
Avoid giving your loved one any type of caffeinated beverages in the afternoon or evening. Caffeine has a way of creeping up when you want to be sleeping. Alcohol and spicy foods are also stimulants, so avoid serving those close to dinner. You may want to opt for some foods that have been proven to make people tired instead such as oatmeal, almonds, cherries, herbal teas, dark chocolate and whole grain breads.