Movement Disorders and Sleep
Restless legs syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder, and rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder are common in older adults. These movement disorders can rob you of needed sleep.
People with restless legs syndrome, or RLS, feel like there is tingling, crawling, or pins and needles in one or both legs. This feeling is worse at night. See your doctor for more information about medicines to treat RLS.
Periodic limb movement disorder, or PLMD, causes people to jerk and kick their legs every 20 to 40 seconds during sleep. Medication, warm baths, exercise, and relaxation exercises can help.
Rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep behavior disorder is another condition that may make it harder to get a good night’s sleep. During normal REM sleep, your muscles cannot move, so your body stays still. But, if you have REM sleep behavior disorder, your muscles can move and your sleep is disrupted.
Alzheimer’s Disease and Sleep—A Special Problem
Alzheimer’s disease often changes a person’s sleeping habits. Some people with Alzheimer’s disease sleep too much; others don’t sleep enough. Some people wake up many times during the night; others wander or yell at night.
The person with Alzheimer’s disease isn’t the only one who loses sleep. Caregivers may have sleepless nights, leaving them tired for the challenges they face.
If you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, take these steps to make him or her safer and help you sleep better at night:
- Make sure the floor is clear of objects.
- Lock up any medicines.
- Attach grab bars in the bathroom.
- Place a gate across the stairs.
Safe Sleep for Older Adults
Try to set up a safe and restful place to sleep. Make sure you have smoke alarms on each floor of your home. Before going to bed, lock all windows and doors that lead outside. Other ideas for a safe night’s sleep are:
- Keep a telephone with emergency phone numbers by your bed.
- Have a lamp within reach that is easy to turn on.
- Put a glass of water next to the bed in case you wake up thirsty.
- Don’t smoke, especially in bed.
- Remove area rugs so you won’t trip if you get out of bed during the night.