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Sleep and Aging: Factors Contributing To Disrupted Sleep

caregiver helping her client

Alcibiades Rives, RN

Director of Nursing

Homewatch CareGivers of Southwest Broward

For many people sleep is regarded as being sacred. For some, sleeping can be intricate and involve many steps, others experience sleep at an instance. Unfortunately, there are those who experience sleep differently, or in some cases, don’t experience much sleep at all. Disrupted sleep is regarded as sleep that is frequently interrupted by periods of waking up throughout the evening. It may be experienced by people of any age and often worsened by effects of other chronic conditions and even as individuals age sleep patterns can deteriorate. The effect of sleep on health is gradual. Over time, not getting proper sleep can become very unhealthy.

Individuals who suffer from chronic conditions often experience disruption in their sleep. Older people often take many medications and suffer from chronic conditions that affect their sleep. Individuals who suffer from conditions that affect mobility often spend most of their day in bed, or reclining chair. Because of their functional limitation these groups of people tend to sleep long hours, or sleep for short periods of time multiple times a day. The hypersomnolence (excessive sleepiness) or insomnia (the lack of sleep) that occurs has a gradual effect on the overall health and plays a major role in these individuals mental health. Along with mental health physical conditions can also become exacerbated. Sleeping is especially difficult for people living with dementia. “People with dementia might also experience a phenomenon in the evening or during the night called sundowning. They might feel confused, agitated, anxious and aggressive. Night wandering in this state of mind can be unsafe” (MAYO, 2019). Careful monitoring of people suffering from dementia is one of the many tasks a caregiver can provide. One of the methods for treating these conditions relies on the promoting sleep hygiene and incorporating activities to keep the individual awake throughout the day. Our caregivers will spend time with your loved one and assist with keeping your loved one engaged and oriented. These actions can support a routine and promote a regular sleeping schedule.

Having the energy to face everyday challenges is vital for aging gracefully. Establishing a proper sleeping routine, and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is a key strategy for reducing sleep disruption. Individuals who experience difficulties with sleep are recommended to consult their health providers to establish plan for treatment. Our staff can coordinate with your loved one’s healthcare team and to provide care giver assistance with treatment plans as directed by a provider. It is possible to slow and prevent the progression of unhealthy sleeping patterns that may occur as we age. We hope our service can improve the quality of life of your loved one, beginning with a good night’s sleep.


Managing Alzheimer's sleep problems. (2019, December 21). Retrieved June 1, 2020, from

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