For some – especially the elderly – sleep is but a dream. Among older people there is a decrease in the deep-sleep stage and an increase in periods of wakefulness/restlessness during the night.
Few, however, actually have recognised sleep disorders, like apnoea or restless leg syndrome – but many over 60s still complain about sleeping and here at Careium we know that a lot of our users suffer from the lack of a good night’s rest.
The importance of a good night’s sleep should not be underplayed. A good rest at night can help keep you healthy, improve concentration and also helps to keep a person’s weight at a healthy level.
Two-thirds of adults in developed nations fail to obtain the nightly eight hours of sleep recommended by the World Health Organisation. And experts say that an adult sleeping only 6.75 hours a night would be predicted to live only to their early 60s without medical intervention.
A leading neuroscientist has also claimed that a good night’s sleep can help prevent cancer, heart attack and Alzheimer’s. What’s more, the amount of sleep we’re getting is reducing. In 1942, less than 8% of the population was trying to survive on six hours or less sleep a night; in 2017, almost one in two people are.
Here are Careium’s top tips to how to get a good night’s sleep:
- Timing: It’s important that you stick to a schedule and try to go to sleep at the same time every night. This helps to regulate your body clock and can be beneficial in the long term.
- Comfort: It may appear facetious to say you should be comfortable when you sleep – however many of us are sleeping on old beds and on mattresses that are well past their best. Sleep experts now recommend that we replace our mattresses every 8 years. However, if you’re not in a position to be able to do this memory foam toppers are reasonably priced and can add a great deal of comfort to an aging mattress.
- Stop napping: Especially in weather like this there is a temptation to snooze when in front of the fire. Although this helps in the short term it could be affecting your chance of a good night’s sleep. If you can’t avoid napping at least try and not to nap in the late afternoon.
- Caffeine: Even a humble cup of tea can mess with your sleep patterns. People with sleeping difficulties are advised not to have caffeine after 3pm in the day. You could always substitute your usual brew for a decaffeinated fruit tea or coffee.
- Evaluate your room: Like the bed you sleep on, the room you sleep in is often not thought of. You should ensure it is dark enough and not too warm or too cold. Check your room for noises or other distractions. This includes a bed partner’s sleep disruptions such as snoring. Consider using blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, “white noise” machines, humidifiers, fans and other devices.
- Exercise: Light exercise is better than none. A walk to the shops every day, if you can manage it, can help with a good night’s sleep.
- Ritual: Some people find a relaxing routine at bedtime helps with sleep. This could be running a bath, reading a book or using lavender pillow spray which is known to induce sleep.
- Screens: These are a big no, no when in bed. So put down your phones and your tablets and relax. Light emitting LED screens are known to disrupt melatonin and sleep patterns. Some devices now come with a blue screen setting – which is supposed to improve the disruption. However there is a new school of thought that is the concentration on electrical devices, and not the light per se, which is keeping us awake.
- Eat well: Spicy foods, big meals, cigarettes or alcohol can cause people sleep problems.
- See your GP: If you try all these tips and still struggle with sleeping you may have a real medical condition and in which case should seek help from a medical professional.
Many of our customers are carers and they can often find it difficult to have a good night’s sleep, especially if the person they care for needs help or disturbs them in the night. A report by Carers UK showed that over 60% of carers said telecare/telehealth had given them peace of mind as a carer. Here are some of the solutions that can help them get a better night’s sleep:
Bed sensors for people who get up from their beds during the night and fail to return after a specified period of time. These can give the carer reassurance that if something happens to their partner whilst they are asleep that an alert to the contact centre will be raised.
Enuresis sensors provide a discreet and efficient means to detect instances of bed-wetting the moment they occur. It consists a thin, waterproof and durable sensor mat (which is positioned under the top sheet of a bed) and a radio device.
Door sensors placed above a front/back door it can detect if you or someone else leaves the property and doesn’t return within a certain period of time, especially helpful if you live with someone with dementia.
Epilepsy sensor is placed underneath the mattress for monitoring epileptic seizures (tonic-clonic). Upon detection of such a seizure, an alert will be raised to the monitoring centre or carer.