Getting enough sleep is a challenge for most of us today, given the fast paced world we’re living in. We repeatedly over-extend ourselves to meet work and family obligations that we find precious little time is left over for taking care of ourselves. It’s easy to feel run down when we don’t take care of our bodies the way we should – especially when suffering from lack of adequate sleep.
Sleep is an essential need that the body cannot function without. In fact, animal studies have shown that rats that have a normal lifespan of two to three years die within weeks once their bodies are deprived of sleep. The precursors to death were an abnormal metabolism and sores on their body. Sleep deprivation’s toll on the human body is quite different – so we thought it would make for an interesting home health care article.
Sleep deprivation in humans has been linked to a decreased metabolism rate in the brain, a compromised immune system, and an upset of hormones in the body. In addition to these side effects, sleep deprivation can also cause the body’s central nervous system to malfunction, resulting in impaired memory and judgment, an inability to function, and in some cases – hallucinations.
Sleep allows the body to restore itself and the energy that it burned the previous day. Sleep also allows the body to maintain and regulate the hormones in our brains that control cognitive function and social interactions as well as to repair and rebuild injured cells. Without it, all aspects of our bodies and minds begin to deteriorate.
The elderly population could be more susceptible to the effects of sleep deprivation than most people because the side effects mimic common ailments often associated with advanced age. Because these conditions may already be present in the elderly, sleep deprivation exacerbates them. Like with any other medical condition or ailment, this sector of the population is less able to recover from the adverse effects lack of sleep may bring.
Here are some simple techniques that caregivers of the elderly can incorporate into their daily routines to help their elderly charges get the rest they need.
- Avoid heavy meals near bedtime.
- Avoid mentally and visually stimulating activities two hours before bedtime. Stimulation hinders the body’s ability to shut down so that it can rest.
- A warm bath before bed has shown to greatly improve the quality of sleep a person experiences.
- Reduce caffeine intake. Caffeine found in coffee and soft drinks is a stimulant that can prevent the body from slipping into mode that is conducive to sleep.
If any of the tips above seem too dificult for you then our caregivers can assist you during a home health care visit. Please contact us to review the large variety of home health care services we provide.