We have often heard about the importance of eating healthy, making the home environment safe and monitoring our medications to prevent falls. What we haven't heard much about though is the importance of a good night sleep.
Our older Americans must get plenty of rest if they expect to remain healthy and active. A study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, reported the importance of a good night sleep is vital to maintain exceptional mental and physical health. Without 7-8 hours of sleep, our older adults are putting themselves at risk for:
Poor physical function - We all have heard about getting enough sleep prior to athletic events. To enable our senior citizens to perform at their best, they need the proper amount of rest too. Without adequate sleep, it is hard for a body to be at it's peak performance. For senior citizens, that may mean loss of balance and other health risks that could result in a fall. Getting the sufficient amount of sleep will help seniors be at their best during the day, as well as assisting their body's ability to recover from the previous day's activities.
Falls - It is estimated that one-third of those 65 and over will suffer from a fall this year. With Falls Prevention Week September 22-28, we've heard a lot about several topics to help prevent falls. Proper medication management, removing clutter around the house and staying active go a long way keeping our elders safe. It has rarely been discussed, but being sleep deficient causes a host of problems, including slower reaction times making it easier to fall. Interesting data reported in the Medical Daily linked inflammatory diseases like arthritis, periodontal diseases and even cancer to sleep deficiency. According to Dr John Krystal, “It is important to know that too little sleep appears to be associated with inflammation, a process that contributes to depression as well as many medical illnesses.”
Poor cognitive function - According to the National Biomedical for Technology, National Institute of Health reports sleep is an essential component of health and well being with significant impacts on cognitive performance and quality of life. Failing to get enough sleep may interfere with memory, perception, mood and temperament.
Mortality - Falls are a major health risk among our older adults and are the leading cause of mortality, morbidity and premature nursing home placement according to a study in the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Approximately 9500 deaths are reported annually that resulted from falls.
It's doubt that our seniors need a good 7-8 hours of sleep for to perform at their best. If you are struggling to get enough sleep, WebMD offers these excellent techniques to get more rest:
Work hard to try and establish a consistent routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every morning and night. Eat your meals and exercise at set times until you get back on track.
Put together a good plan for consistent exercise, but check with your physician first. It is best to try and do your workouts earlier in the day to prevent any interruptions with your sleep.
It helps to have the bedroom temperature on the cooler side. Stay away from the television in the bedroom.
Determine what relaxes you most. I could be a good book, warm shower or meditation.
Get out of bed
If you are having trouble falling to sleep after 15 minutes, get out of the bed and do something relaxing like reading a book.
Check with you doctor
Sometimes your medication can keep you awake. Check with your physician to consider an alternative prescription.
We think it is vital for our seniors to get their winks to stay healthy and active. By getting the 7-8 hours of sleep per night, our older Americans will go a long way towards preventing serious injuries, diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Do us a favor and get the rest your body needs so you can always be on top of your game.