Health and Wellness of Your Senior Parent: How to Deal With Bedtime Procrastination

Bedtime procrastination is a common struggle for many senior parents. Whether they cannot settle down or can’t stop the activities of the day, getting older adults to sleep on time can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are several steps that caregivers and family members can take to encourage their seniors to get quality rest.

What Is Bedtime Procrastination?

Before digging deeper into how a caregiver or other family member can assist a senior loved one regarding bedtime procrastination, we provide you with some background information on the subject. According to Harvard Medical School, approximately 20 years ago, researchers in Europe coined the term “bedtime procrastination.” The term was crafted to describe someone who goes to bed later than planned, despite knowing that there will be negative consequences if they do. This includes senior men and women. Their research showed that adults who procrastinated significantly about going to bed were¬†more tired and slept less than those who did not procrastinate.

Assist Your Senior Parent in Establishing a Regular Bedtime Routine

The first tip for dealing with bedtime procrastination is establishing a routine. Like younger children, having a set bedtime schedule helps keep the body and mind in sync. This makes it easier for seniors to settle into their beds and helps them develop healthy habits like going to bed simultaneously each night. A regular sleep schedule should include winding down activities an hour before bed, such as taking a warm bath or reading a book.

Create an Inviting Sleep Environment for Your Senior Father or Mother

The second tip is creating an inviting environment for sleep. Seniors should have access to comfortable beds and pillows to feel relaxed and supported when lying down. It’s also important to ensure the temperature in their bedroom is not too hot or cold, as this can interrupt quality restful sleep. Lastly, installing blackout curtains or blinds in the bedroom may help reduce outside disturbances like street lights and moonlight, which can keep seniors up at night.

Work to Aid Your Parent in Avoiding Stimulating Activities and Beverages Before Bedtime

The third tip is avoiding stimulating activities before bedtimes, such as consuming caffeine-containing beverages or engaging in stressful conversations with family members or friends. Stimulants can raise alertness levels making it harder for seniors who already have trouble sleeping due to age-related reasons, like nighttime cognitive decline and chronic pain or discomfort. Additionally, engaging in emotionally charged conversations close to bedtime might increase anxiety levels making it difficult for older adults who struggle with insomnia or other sleeping disorders to get quality restful sleep.

Select Proper Bedtime Snacks for a Senior Parent

A fourth tactic is to provide light snacks high in protein before bedtime. This can help seniors fall asleep faster as proteins promote melatonin production, which makes us sleepy and relaxed. However, greasy foods should be avoided close to bedtime as these can cause indigestion problems, disrupting healthy sleeping patterns.

Appropriate Exercise During the Day Can Promote Better Sleep

Finally, gentle exercise during the day combined with stretching exercises before bed might help senior parents relax their bodies enough so that they can drift off into peaceful slumber come nighttime hours. Exercise has been scientifically proven to help people of all ages fall asleep faster; however, mild exercises such as walking around the block or taking any low-impact physical activity are recommended over more strenuous workouts closer to late evening hours since these tend further stimulate rather than relax the body leading up till nighttime hours.

Serious Consequences of a Senior Parent’s Failure to Maintain a Consistent Bedtime

Discussing the importance of seniors maintaining consistent bedtimes is not an exercise in platitudes. Some very real and serious negative consequences can be associated with the failure of an older individual to maintain a consistent and proper bedtime. We briefly discuss five of these potential negative consequences:

  • Poor sleep quality
  • Health concerns
  • Cognitive decline
  • Emotional instability
  • Loss of independence

Poor Sleep Quality

One of the primary negative consequences of not having a regular bedtime for seniors is poor sleep quality. Seniors are more likely to suffer from disrupted and fragmented sleep without a consistent sleep schedule. This can lead to difficulty falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, and waking up too early in the morning. Furthermore, poor sleep quality can result in irritability, fatigue during the day, and an overall decrease in energy and mental clarity.

Health Concerns

Not having a regular bedtime can also lead to various health concerns for seniors. Studies have shown that individuals who do not maintain consistent sleeping patterns are more likely to experience cardiovascular problems due to increased stress hormones that disrupt their internal body clock. In addition, poor sleeping habits can increase one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes due to an imbalance in hormonal systems which regulate metabolism and glucose levels.

Cognitive Decline

Seniors who don’t have a regular bedtime may suffer from cognitive decline due to inadequate therapeutic processes associated with sleep. A lack of proper restorative processes can cause memory problems, difficulty focusing on tasks or conversations, reduced problem-solving abilities, and difficulty making decisions. Moreover, individuals with inconsistent sleeping patterns may be at an increased risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia later in life due to a chronic lack of restful sleep affecting brain health over time.

Emotional Instability

Not getting enough quality restful sleep regularly can also cause emotional instability among seniors by disrupting the production of important hormones, such as serotonin which play a significant role in regulating moods, emotions, and behavior. This can lead to seniors becoming overly anxious, irritable, or depressed without any obvious triggers or causes, making it difficult for them to manage their emotional states effectively over time without proper help from others or professional intervention if necessary.

Loss of Independence

Lastly, a lack of regular bedtimes can also lead to decreased independence among seniors as they grow older since their bodies become less resilient with age and require adequate amounts of rest for them to function optimally throughout each day, especially when engaging in physical activities like going out shopping or socializing with friends or family members confidently and safely without any assistance required from others around them.

Dealing with bedtime procrastination of senior parents doesn’t have to be difficult if caregivers take proactive steps. By applying the tips and tactics in this article, you can provide your parent assistance with developing and then maintaining an appropriate bedtime regimen. You can assist your father or mother overcome issues like sleep procrastination today and in the future.