Alzheimer’s disease affects in excess of five million people in the United States. Despite its prevalence, there is still a lot doctors and scientists don’t know about the disease, including its cause. Research is ongoing and continues to yield new information. One of the newest pieces of information that scientists have discovered is that there could be a link between feeling very sleepy during the day and Alzheimer’s.
New Study Examines Relationship Between Sleep and Alzheimer’s
Researchers recently conducted a study involving 283 older adults who had not been diagnosed with dementia. The scientists observed a connection between people who had “excessive daytime sleepiness” (ESD) and a protein called beta amyloid in the brain. Beta amyloid is a protein that can turn into the plaques that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. People who had ESD had higher levels of beta amyloid.
Scientists have known for a while that there is a connection between sleep and an increased risk for dementia. This new information is important, though, because it may highlight a greater need for treating sleep disorders.
Tips for Better Sleep for Seniors
If your aging relative has difficulty sleeping, there are many ways you can help them to sleep better. Some tips for improving their sleep are:
Follow a Bedtime Routine: Getting up and going to bed at regular times each day can help signal the body when it is time to sleep. It can also help to switch to activities that are calming toward bedtime. For example, the senior might listen to music, take a bath, or meditate.
Increase Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that helps people feel like sleeping. The light emitted by television screens, tablets, computers, and smartphones can reduce the amount of melatonin the body makes. Turn screens off a minimum of one hour before the senior goes to bed.
Move the Clock: The light from a digital clock can make sleeping harder. Also, when the senior is having trouble sleeping, watching the time tick by won’t help. It may just make them anxious.
Use the Bedroom for Sleep Only: The bedroom should be a soothing place that encourages sleep. Remove televisions and other distractions from the room. Also, if your aging relative can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes, they should get up and leave the bedroom until they feel tired. This will help train the brain to think of the bedroom as a place for sleeping.
Another way to help older adults to sleep better is by hiring homecare. Homecare providers can help the older adult to stick to a bedtime routine by encouraging them to go to bed on time and helping them to get up in the morning. Homecare can also remind older adults to turn off screens and switch to calming activities, like reading. If your aging relative enjoys reading, but has difficulty because of vision problems, a homecare provider can read to them.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Homecare Services in Oak Park IL, please contact the caring staff at Big Hearts Home Care today!