According to WebMD, roughly half of all men and women in the U.S. over the age of 65 don’t sleep enough. In many cases this lack of sufficient sleep is due to the aging process itself, but other causes include stress, certain medications and chronic pain.

Unfortunately, not sleeping enough oftentimes leads to more serious health problems that can threaten a senior’s ability to continue aging in place at home. Here are several reasons why getting sufficient sleep is vitally important for seniors.

What Keeps Older Adults Awake at Night?

The human body was designed to perform optimally when it gets 7 to 9 hours of restful sleep each day. All of us feel better when we’re well rested. But millions of older adults lay awake at night for these reasons:

  • Feeling stressed out, worried or depressed
  • Medications they’re taking
  • Death of a spouse or other close relative
  • Poor lifestyle choices, including drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages before going to bed
  • Sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome or REM behavior disorder
  • An uncomfortable bed
  • Chronic pain due to arthritis, cancer, back pain or another medical condition

If you’re currently serving as a caregiver for an elderly loved one who isn’t getting sufficient sleep, most of these issues are correctable. For some, it may take undergoing a sleep study, or polysomnogram, first that’s administered by a licensed medical professional.

The Many Benefits of a Restful Sleep

Getting a good night’s rest is an important part of a senior’s overall health and wellness program. Here are some proven benefits that are derived from getting plenty of sleep:

  • Helps protect the brain from cognitive impairment like dementia or Alzheimer’s
  • Lowers stress and anxiety levels
  • Reduces blood pressure and the likelihood for experiencing heart problems
  • Promotes faster healing rates, notably from acute illnesses, injuries or surgeries
  • Improves blood glucose metabolism, which is great for seniors with diabetes
  • Helps a person maintain a healthy body weight by balancing blood sugar
  • Increases energy levels which keeps seniors more active throughout the day

Studies have even shown that getting enough sleep over a long period of time, along with implementing other positive lifestyle changes, helps increase life expectancy!

Helping a Senior Stay Well Rested

According to sleep specialists who work with the elderly, here’s how to help your senior sleep sufficiently:

Exercise

Encourage them to exercise regularly at home or the local gym. In addition to making a senior feel tired at the end of the day, exercise also lowers stress levels, builds muscle strength and cardiovascular stamina. For seniors who are overweight, exercise also burns calories which will help with body weight-related disorders like sleep apnea.

Buy a New Mattress

Sometime