5274 Scotts Valley Dr #102 Scotts Valley, CA 95066 831-430-0616 www.VisitingAngels.com/SantaCruz 229 Reindollar Ave., Suite E Marina, CA 93933 831-392-0876 www.VisitingAngels.com/Monterey
Debunking the Sleep Myth Why Seniors Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep
How much sleep do you get at night? Probably not enough. I know I would love to take a nap at work after lunch sometimes! Adults don’t need as much sleep as children, yet they still don’t typically log enough hours. Infants and young children need upward of 11 hours of sleep per day. As adults, we can function just fine with seven to nine hours a night — not that most of us get to enjoy seven hours of sleep. Many people assume they need less and less sleep as they age. However, this is not accurate. Seniors needs just as much sleep as other adults! This misconception is likely because seniors tend to sleep less, but that’s not because they require fewer hours. Around 40 percent of seniors suffer from some sort of sleep disorder, which prevents them from getting a healthy amount of sleep. Visiting Angels sees this a lot with our own care recipients, and sleep deprivation often contributes to other health risks. Here are a few common sleep disorders experienced by seniors: • Sleep apnea — a sleep disorder characterized by loud snoring because a person’s airways become blocked. Episodes of suffocation and oxygen deprivation can cause exhaustion and lead to other dangerous health conditions. • Periodic limb movement — the involuntary movement of one or more limbs, which can prevent a senior from falling asleep or cause them to wake up during sleep. • Insomnia — the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep
Many sleep disorders have serious medical risks associated with them, and you should contact a doctor for an evaluation. However, sometimes the inability to sleep is due to certain habits. My grandmother spent years working the night shift as a telephone operator. She would work from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. while also raising her family, so she developed strategies to help her get enough
“Around 40 percent of seniors suffer from some sort of sleep disorder, which prevents them from getting a healthy amount of sleep.”
sleep wherever she could. Rather than take extra naps or rely on sleeping pills, Grandma would drink warm milk or herbal tea to relax. She would stay active during the day and block light out of her room using thick black curtains. These strategies really helped her, and our Visiting Angels often help clients think up other useful sleeping habits. Not every senior needs the same amount of sleep. Some seniors may need nine hours of sleep, while others can remain perfectly healthy with six. However much sleep a senior needs, it’s important that sleep be as restful as possible so seniors can stay healthy and lead fun, fulfilling lives.
Cindy Saunders, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
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