5 Myths About Getting Older And Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep may be one of the easiest (not to mention best) things we do on a daily basis. There’s nothing better than getting a good night’s sleep, right? Yet as we age, it can get much more difficult to accomplish and frustrating to say the least. If you’re a caregiver concerned about your loved one or client’s sleep habits, be sure to pay more attention to the below and prioritize not just their, but your own sleep patterns for life!
Myth #1 – As I get older, I don’t need as much sleep!
It is easy to think that, children for example, or adults who work long shifts need a good night’s sleep. But what about seniors who may be retired? These are among many opinions about sleep and how much we need it. While it is true that developing children need more sleep than adults, what takes many by surprise is that once a person reaches adulthood, they need the same amount of sleep (6-8 hours) on average even as they age.
Myth #2 – Getting “regular” with sleep is easy to do
And by this we mean, it’s easy to play “catch-up” with sleep, so if, for example, we stay up later than usual to get some more work done or TV time in one night, we can justify going to bed earlier the night after. This is a big no no. Our bodies follow circadian rhythm, which in simpler terms is your sleep/wake cycle. Be sure to pay attention to when your body feels tired, and don’t mess around with it! Try to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day to maintain good physical health and of course mental health.
Myth #3 – It isn’t normal if I or my client wake up at night, right? Doesn’t it mean that they may begin to sleepwalk?
While sleepwalking is definitely something to talk to your doctor about, whether it’s your client or yourself, don’t be concerned when it comes to late-night trips to the bathroom or water breaks. According to many studies, it was very normal for humans throughout history to take breaks during their sleep cycle for even up to two hours. Just be sure that if you’ve noticed your client or loved one do so, you are prepared and can easily monitor their trip to the bathroom or late-night snack break.
Myth #4 – As I get older, I don’t need to change my pre-sleep routine, right?
While all adults, and older adults usually need to maintain a normal sleep cycle, it is very important to realize that older adults can have a much harder time falling asleep and staying asleep. We become distracted by the smallest nuisances, from those radiator noises – even your trusty night light. Between various environmental factors and your personal health conditions, the amount of potential sleep disturbers grows amongst older adults and seniors. Definitely watch the amount of caffeine you or a loved one drink after 4 pm as well, as it can lead to a disturbed sleep cycle and even insomnia as you get older.
Myth #5 – I need 8 hours a night to live a happy life, right?
While you’ve probably heard that getting eight hours of sleep each night is the ideal, not everyone actually needs a full eight hours to get along with their day and be happy! Some can do with six hours, others between seven and a half. If you or your loved one have noticed strange signs of restlessness and fatigue, such as dozing off in front of the TV during lunchtime or feeling the need to sleep all weekend or on your time off, try to reevaluate how much sleep you actually need to be getting each night.