Thursday, February 9, 2012

Insomnia in Seniors: The Cause, the Cost, and a Cure

According to the National Institute of Health, the majority of seniors struggle with insomnia.  Insomnia can take several forms.  A senior might get into bed and toss and turn for more than 45 minutes before finally dozing off.  Or, they go to sleep quickly only to wake up a few hours later and not be able to get back to sleep.  Finally, they simply wake up several times a night.  They might get back to sleep, but sleep interrupted doesn’t give them the full benefit of a night’s rest.

The Cause of Insomnia

What’s causing all this nighttime turmoil? 

First, there are the stresses that come with age—changes in life such as relocating, losing a spouse or a good friend, and worrying about how to do things that used to be easy, or how to pay for medical care.

Second, there are the aches and pains that are part of the aging body.  They make it more difficult to get comfortable and fall asleep.  There are also many other medical conditions that deprive seniors of sleep including Parkinson’s, dementia, and lung disease.

Third, the cure for one problem can be the cause of the next issue.  If a senior is on medication that makes them sleepy during the day, they are more likely to have a restless night or two.

Add to all of this the frequent call of the bathroom that wakes up elderly people.

The Cost of Insomnia

So why does this all matter?  Apart from feeling groggy and miserable, what does lack of sleep do to seniors? 

As seniors age, many don’t seem to be as sharp cognitively as when they were young—even if they are not suffering with dementia.  A study by North Carolina State University revealed that lack of sleep affects cognitive function.  That includes the ability to learn, organize, and retain information and more.

Also, when you sleep your body recharges, boosting your immune system and repairing cell damage.  The bottom line is that sleep helps to prevent disease.

A Cure for Insomnia

A recent study by New York Hospital’s Cornell Medical Center discovered that the body cools two hours before the longest periods of sleep.  So they believe that taking a warm bath 1.5 to two hours before bed makes it more likely the body will cool down and be ready for sleep.  Get the timing right – if you bathe right before you go to bed, you may actually delay sleep by two hours. Of course, the relaxing in the tub can also soothe any aches and pains that sometimes delay or interrupt sleep.

Walk-in Tubs Might Help Seniors Sleep

None of this is very helpful unless a senior is able to get into a tub.  But walk-in tubs make it easy.  We offer walk-in tubs from firstStreet.  Not only can the senior walk right in, they can also relax safely on a 17” high seat, enjoy spa-like relaxation, and, when they’re ready to get up and leave, take hold of the built in grab bar for added safety.  firstStreet walk-in tubs come with hydro-jets that give the water a massage-like action to ease sore muscles and joints.  Also, there’s a dedicated heater so you can rest and relax comfortably for longer.

Once again, check with your doctor before starting a hydrotherapy program.

Bye for now …………………….George Flowers

P.S.  If you live in New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Delaware, please contact us for a free in-home consultation—we’ll let you know if your loved one is safe and what we recommend.  Or call us now at 1-877-426-8466.

Do you or a senior you love suffer from insomnia?

What cures have you tried successfully?

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