Many elderly parents suffer from not getting a restful night of sleep. Many different reasons can cause sleep problems from Restless Leg Syndrome, to Sleep Apnea, problems with medications, or a host of many other things. Without getting into the many things that can cause lack of sleep issues, lets focus on some things that may help. It is very important that the elderly person still tries to lead an active life during the day. Encourage them to spend as little of time in bed during the day as they can. Get as much exercise as possible while still taking care of any health issues that they may have.
Keep a steady routine that is followed closely. Don’t stay up real late one night and go to bed early the next. Stay consistent with a schedule. It’s sort of like a babies schedule, when on one they tend to be less fussy and much more happy.
Avoid the use of caffeine, alcohol and nicotine in the afternoon and evening hours. In fact I would go as far as to say, “Don’t ever use them”. These products can really put a damper on a good nights sleep, not to mention they are not good for the human body no matter how old you are.
It’s important to have good sleep habits and the elderly need to receive at least a half hour to an hour of exposure to bright light each day. This and exercise together reinforce the circadian cycle, which is essential to sleep. Minimize the amount of sunlight coming into the bedroom in the mornings will also help. Don’t spend too much time in bed trying to go to sleep. Get up and move around a little or watch some television from your favorite chair. Continuing to stay in bed and trying to fall asleep can sometimes reinforce the problem just because you are thinking too much about it.
I would also search for help on this subject from various national organizations like the American Sleep Disorders Association. They can be found on the net at http://www.asda.org or the National Sleep Foundation at http://www.sleepfoundation.org. These organizations have a wealth of information to help those struggling with this problem.
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