I hear so often from family members, ‘Mom sleeps a lot. What can I do about it? She’s up all night and wants to sleep all day. Her schedule is all messed up – just like a baby gets when they get their days and nights mixed up.’
What many people fail to realize is that with all of the other changes taking place in aging adults, why would their sleep pattern be any different? Most adults have admitted to their health care provider that they have a harder time falling asleep and that they wake several times during the night (to use the bathroom or just to fidget about).
Part of the reason could be that sleep patterns are interrupted by other bodily functions. Since sleep normally occurs in several stages and if during the dreamless periods of light and deep sleep is interrupted, then perhaps this interrupts the cycle causing it to repeat to the same part of the cycle and skipping over the periods of active dreaming or REM sleep. Since the cycle is repeated in normal sleep patterns sever times each night, the interruptions may increase or decrease the amount of sleep that the individual is getting thus the person may want to stay in bed longer.
It is normal, but for one that has not gotten to this point yet, it can be worrisome or even bothersome – if the parent lives in their residence or vice versa. The changing sleep patterns may just be interrupting the younger people’s sleep.
As a caregiver, I understand these changes and simply go with the flow. I have found that if I attempt to change the sleep patterns that I may just ‘awake a sleeping bear’ and bear hunter I am not. So it is easier to show that With Age Comes Respect than to go against the normal flow of aging behaviors.