Your dad isn’t getting a full night’s sleep. Don’t be alarmed, as it’s more common than you might imagine. Some of the sleep disorders older adults experience include Circadian Rhythm Disorder, insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea. How you or his in-home care provider help him depends on the sleep disorder he’s facing.
Circadian Rhythm Disorder
Every person should aim for seven or eight hours of sleep each night. However, some people struggle with Circadian Rhythm Disorder, which impacts the body’s natural sleep patterns.
Older adults often experience ASPS, which causes them to feel tired much earlier in the evening than normal and wake up long before the sun rises. This is often caused by hormonal changes that are natural with aging. If your dad is getting enough sleep, it’s not too concerning.
If he’s not getting enough sleep, his doctor may recommend melatonin, prescription sleep aids, or bright light therapy.
Insomnia is usually one of four situations. Your dad can’t fall asleep easily at night. He falls asleep normally, but he wakes a few hours later and struggles to get back to sleep. He starts to fall asleep but wakes up and keeps going in this circle for hours. Or, he might get a full night’s sleep but not feel very rested at all, mainly because he never entered deep sleep or REM sleep.
Why does insomnia happen? There are lots of things that can trigger it. He might be taking medications that have insomnia as a side effect. Stress and anxiety can worsen insomnia.
Sometimes, it can be that he’s drinking too much water, tea, or coffee shortly before he goes to bed, and the caffeine impacts his ability to sleep. Or, he wakes up and needs to use the bathroom, which brings him out of his sleep state.
Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome is a health condition where the skin, muscles, and nerves in your leg feel like their tingling or twitching as you settle down for the night. It might seem as though your legs are dying to get moving right as you’re wanting to go to sleep.
If your dad has restless leg syndrome, he needs to talk to his doctor. Certain medications can ease the sensation.
Sleep apnea can be obstructive or central. Central sleep apnea is caused by a delay in the brain functions that control your breathing. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by an obstruction in the throat that makes your airway narrow.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include loud snoring, night sweats, headaches, and the feeling of shortness of breath after abruptly waking up. People with sleep apnea often find it hard to stay awake during the day.
He should sign up for a sleep trial to determine if he has sleep apnea. If he does, he may need a machine to help him get enough oxygen. Your dad may undergo surgery to remove any obstruction that’s impacting airflow.
He Shouldn’t Drive
One thing is true of insomnia and other sleep disorders. Your dad should not drive if he’s not getting enough sleep. The risk of falling asleep being the wheel is too much risk. He needs to let someone else drive. In-home care is a convenient solution to your dad’s transportation needs.
Professional caregivers can drive your dad around town. He’ll have a driver for his shopping trips, on appointment days, or to go out and see friends. Talk to an in-home care specialist to learn more.