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Ideal Sleep Schedule for Aging Adults

Regardless of a person’s age, a good night’s sleep is essential for a healthy body and brain. Chronic lack of sleep can lead to a variety of issues, including an increased risk of obesity, heart attacks, depression, and cognitive decline.

Seniors can face a variety of age-related challenges. Though some families choose to take on the caregiving duties, there may come a time when they need a trusted Columbus in-home care provider. Families sometimes need respite from their duties so they can focus on their other responsibilities, and some seniors need around-the-clock assistance that their families are not able to provide. Home Care Assistance is here to help.

The sleep cycle is controlled by the body’s circadian rhythm, which serves as an internal clock. Circadian rhythm is based on natural functions such as changes in hormone levels and temperatures, as well as environmental cues and genetics. To feel and perform at their best, it is important for seniors to match their sleep schedule to their bodies’ circadian rhythm. 

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the number of hours of sleep people need each night stays consistent once they reach adulthood. Young to middle-aged adults typically need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Adults aged 65 and older should strive for 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night. 

Optimal Time for Sleep

Timing has a significant impact on the quality of the sleep. As seniors sleep, they move through multiple cycles, usually lasting about 90 minutes of deep sleep followed by lighter sleep characterized by dreams and rapid eye movement. During the earlier part of the night, the deep, restorative sleep dominates the cycle. As morning approaches, lighter rapid eye movement sleep takes up the cycle. For most individuals, a bedtime between 8pm and midnight will typically ensure an adequate amount of deep sleep.

Circadian Rhythm and Age

The sleep cycle is partly determined by a hormone called melatonin. The level of melatonin starts to rise in the evening, especially when exposed to darkness. Melatonin levels remain elevated through the night to help people stay asleep. Beginning around age 30, the body starts to produce less natural melatonin, which causes people to wake up earlier. As a result, they need to adjust their bedtimes accordingly. A group of researchers from Oxford University found that an ideal wake time for people in their 60s is 6:30am, which would mean a 10:30 to 11:30pm bedtime. For a person aged 70 or above, natural wake time may be as early as 5am. 

Cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s can affect quality of sleep. Seniors with Alzheimer’s have much to gain when their families opt for professional Alzheimer’s care. Columbus, OH, families can rely on compassionate and dedicated caregivers to help their elderly loved ones manage the various challenges of Alzheimer’s disease so they can enjoy a higher quality of life.

Aim for Consistency

Seniors should not try to force themselves into a bedtime that does not fit with their normal physiology. If your loved one is having difficulty falling asleep, encourage him or her to experiment with various sleep times to find the one that leaves him or her feeling the most rested. Once you find a sleep and wake time that works for your loved one, encourage him or her to follow the schedule consistently. If your loved one continues to have difficulty sleeping or experiences excessive daytime sleepiness, consult his or her doctor to rule out potential medical issues.

Caring for a senior loved one with an irregular sleep pattern can be overwhelming because it may also disrupt the caregiver’s sleep. Family caregivers sometimes need a break from their caregiving responsibilities. When they need respite care, Columbus families can rely on professional caregivers to help their senior loved ones remain safe at home. Call Home Care Assistance at (614) 481-8888 to learn about our high-quality in-home care services.