Geriatrics and Sleep Care

Geriatrics As you and your loved ones reach and exceed the golden age of 50, you may notice a difference in your sleeping patterns, which is a normal part of aging. Changes could include getting tired earlier or feeling like you cannot sleep at all. While you previously could sleep through the night, you may now find yourself tossing and turning. Whatever your situation, sleep is a very important aspect of one’s wellness and there are effective tactics for aiding your sleep as a geriatrics patient.

Especially in the case of geriatrics patients or those receiving home health or therapy, sleep allows one’s body to rest and “repair any cell damage that occurred during the day, and refreshes your immune system, which in turn helps to prevent disease. 1” This is especially important when you are receiving therapy or home health house calls for a condition or recovery from injury.

Quality sleep also improves emotional and mental health, as “older adults who don’t sleep well are more likely to suffer from depression, attention and memory problems.” Lack of sleep has also been linked to serious, long-term conditions that require home health care such as Diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer and weight management issues.

So, according to geriatrics professionals, how much sleep does a person over 50 need? While every person’s body has different needs, in general, seven and a half to nine hours of sleep are best for the most effective functioning of a person’s body. With that said, it is very important to listen to your body. If your body has gone through recent trauma or you are undergoing challenging home health care or therapy and you feel extremely tired, try to get more rest at night or work a nap into your day.

Why are sleep problems such a hot topic in geriatric health and home health care? Unfortunately, as you get older you body naturally produces less growth hormone, which helped trigger your deep sleep at younger ages. With less growth hormone production brings less melatonin, which as you may know causes you to have more fragmented sleep cycles, most likely causing the tossing and turning that you experience during the night. Other potential reasons for decreased sleep in geriatrics patients are pain or illness, medications, lack of exercise and stress.

To give yourself a better chance of quality sleep during the night, geriatrics and home health nurses encourage their patients to try to put more activities in your day that put you in a good mood or include physical activity to improve your fitness level. Also, exposure to sunlight helps your body regulate its melatonin and avoid excessive stimulants like caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.

In addition, try to have a regular nighttime routine and sleep schedule to get you in the mood to sleep, avoid artificial lights that negatively affect melatonin, turn off electronics, avoid caffeine or excessive sugar at night and make sure your bedroom is ideal for sleep in terms of temperature, noise level and darkness.

For more suggestions on geriatric health and successful sleep care tactics, check out the HelpGuide’s article, “How to Sleep Well as You Age.”