senior woman sleeping Who doesn’t love a good night’s sleep? When it’s time for bed, we look forward to a restful sleep to feel refreshed in the morning. However, not everyone enjoys an uninterrupted eight hours each night – especially not seniors.

According to the National Institutes of Health, about 50 percent of people over the age of 60 experience insomnia, a disorder that prevents sleep. How serious is this issue?

A recent study found that changes in sleep patterns could lead to a decline in senior memory retention and dementia later in life.

Results of the Sleep Study

Neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley recently studied the relationship between sleep and memories in young and older adults. In their research, they discovered that seniors with poor sleep patterns are more likely to experience memory impairment.

The prefrontal cortex of the brain, related to attention and recollection, failed to produce sleep patterns that promote memory consolidation. Although these results seem grim for older generations down the line, the researchers are optimistic that their findings could lead to new treatment options for memory loss disorders like dementia.

How Can Seniors Improve Sleep?

The National Institutes of Health report that seniors get less sleep, experience more nightly disruptions and may have disorders like restless leg syndrome that keep them awake. Unfortunately, many of these factors can contribute to the development of dementia later in life. How can seniors get a better night’s sleep to reduce their risk of memory loss?

  • Reduce stress before bed. Calming activities like reading a book, going for a short walk or taking a warm bubble bath can help lessen anxieties.
  • Get on a regular sleep schedule, where you go to bed and wake up around the same time.
  • Improve your sleep environment. Make sure the space is quiet, dark and comfortable.
  • Avoid caffeine or alcoholic beverages before bed that may make you jittery or uneasy.
  • If possible, take less naps during the day so that your body is tired come bedtime.

When seniors maintain a lifestyle with proper nutrition and activities they enjoy, they are likely to live longer and face less health risks. If your loved one is having trouble sleeping at home, consider admission to West Hartford Health & Rehabilitation Center. Our skilled nursing facility is a comfortable and safe environment where he or she can also remain active. Contact us today to learn more!