Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. It can wake a person up early in the morning and make falling back to sleep seem like an impossibility. If your elderly loved one is struggling with insomnia, it might help to determine what is causing it in order to help you decide on the best course of action to help your find relief. An elder care provider can help with the suggestions below.
There are four main categories of possible causes of insomnia. Some can be treated with simple lifestyle changes, while others will need a physician’s help or some other professional.
There are certain health issues, conditions, and diseases that will affect your parent’s ability to sleep well. If your parent suffers from any of these, you should plan an appointment with his healthcare provider to discuss how to help him sleep better.
- Chronic physical pain or discomfort.
- Waking up at night to use the bathroom is often common in men with an enlarged prostate.
- Sleep apnea.
Mental Health Issues
Mental health issues can affect a person’s ability to sleep well at night. While some of these can be helped by practicing some positive mental health habits, others will need a professional diagnosis and perhaps some medication.
- Feeling sad or depressed.
- Stress and anxiety, whether it is short-term or long-term.
- Bipolar disorder.
Medications and Drugs
Using some medications and drugs can affect a person’s ability to sleep well. While some are an important part of your parent’s treatment for a condition, others are considered more “recreational” and should be reduced or eliminated if they are interfering with your parent’s ability to sleep at night.
Alcohol. Your parent may think a nightcap will help him with his sleep and while it might help him fall asleep, alcohol often causes a person to wake up in the middle of the night.
Cigarettes. Smoking before bedtime can cause a person to have a hard time falling asleep.
Caffeine. Having a cup of coffee with the elder care provider at 1 pm is fine. Drinking a cup of coffee before bed is not. Limit caffeine use to only the daytime.
Some cold medicines and diet pills. Some over-the-counter meds have stimulants in them. When purchasing them, your parent or his senior home care provider should ask the pharmacist if they have stimulants that might make sleep difficult.
Poor Lifestyle Habits that Elder Care Aides can Adjust
Things that a person has done their whole life, may make sleep more difficult as they get older.
Going to bed at a different time each night. Have your parent set an alarm so he wakes up at the same time each day or plan an early morning visit from his elder care provider so he has to get up. It’ll make falling asleep easier.
Poor sleeping environment, such as uncomfortable temps, loud noises, or too much light. Make sure your parent’s bedroom is perfect for sleeping.
Excessive daytime napping. A short 20-minute nap at least 8 hours before bedtime is fine, but any longer, late-afternoon naps can make falling asleep difficult.
Inactivity. Exercise helps a body sleep better at night so long as it’s not done too close to bedtime.
Remember, the quality of sleep your parent receives is just as important as the quantity.