10 ways to help an overtired loved one get more sleep
Older people need around eight to ten hours of sleep every night
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If your relative seems to be falling asleep earlier than usual or gets up at the crack of dawn, don’t be too concerned – sleep patterns do change as we get older. However, they should still get more than seven hours sleep, here’s how to help them:
Encourage a healthy sleep plan
Establish a routine: try setting an alarm for your relative to get up at the same time every morning, then encourage them to go to bed at the same time every night. Their body should begin to recognise the pattern and know when to switch off. In the morning, use a sunrise alarm clock to wake them more gently.
Cut back on caffeine: if your relative drinks a lot of tea or coffee, they might struggle to wind down. Try herbal teas, hot squash or decaf alternatives.
Avoid naps: if your loved one takes regular, long naps too close to bedtime, it could affect their ability to sleep well at night. Help them avoid naps by keeping them busy or limit them to a 20-minute power nap.
Exercise if possible: help your relative do a form of exercise appropriate for older people. Half an hour of walking or gentle swimming could send them off to sleep easier at night.
Prepare for sleep: if daytime routines don’t seem to help, try a bedtime routine. Encourage your loved one to take a bath just before bed, read, practice deep breathing or give them a massage to relax.
Turn off the TV: watching TV before bed can be disruptive. It’s best not to use a TV in the bedroom and turn it off at least an hour before bedtime.
Tackle distractions: if your loved one is peckish at bedtime or needs the loo, they might not be able to nod off. A light snack an hour before bed should curb hunger and ensure they visit the bathroom before bed.
Prepare the bedroom: check it isn’t too hot and give your loved one a blanket in case they get cold. Use lamps for more relaxing, ambient lighting. Consider using a blackout blind to make the room as dark as possible.
Check for comfort: if your relative hasn’t changed their mattress in a while, check it’s still comfortable. Ensure bed clothes are loose enough to sleep in too.
Talk about worries: if your loved one has problems switching off, try chatting about worries they might have. Talking will reduce their anxiety so they can go to sleep more peacefully.
If they have trouble falling asleep every night, have regularly disturbed sleep or difficulty staying awake during the day, take them to see their GP; it could be a case of insomnia or a reaction to the medication they’re taking, rather than just difficulty unwinding. If you’re in need of extra help looking after your loved one or someone to help them establish a night time routine, Cera can match you with a care worker aligned to your family’s needs after undertaking a thorough and free assessment.
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