If you’re a caregiver to an older adult who does not sleep well at night, you may be looking for ways to promote better sleep. You may have heard about weighted blankets and their reported affect on sleep as well as anxiety. They are very popular, but are they popular because of clever marketing or do they really work?
Research and Advertising for Weighted Blankets
Weighted blankets usually weigh between 4 and 25 pounds. They are commonly filled with plastic pellets. A couple of years ago, weighted blankets were thought to be just a fad. However, a few companies jumped on the fad and used marketing to make them mainstream. Once available only from specialty stores and online, you can now pick up a weighted blanket at big box stores, like Walmart and Target.
Research shows that people who have used weighted blankets report less anxiety and better sleep. However, according to an article on WebMD, a lot of the studies on weighted blankets have been paid for by companies that make them. That means that caregivers may want to take the results with a grain of salt before deciding if a weighted blanket is right for their aging relative.
Other Ways Caregivers Can Help Seniors Sleep
If a weighted blanket doesn’t seem like the right choice for the older adult in your life, there are plenty of other ways you can improve their sleep.
Some things caregivers can do include:
More Light During the Day: Exposing seniors to more bright light during the day can regulate their circadian rhythm. That reminds the body that it’s time to sleep when the sun goes down. In addition, getting up at the same time each morning and going to bed at the same time each night can also trigger sleepiness at bedtime.
Avoid Blue Light at Night: The blue light emitted by smartphones, laptops, and tablets can make it difficult to sleep. Caregivers should remind older adults to put electronics away a few hours before bedtime.
Stick to Decaf: Drinking caffeinated beverages in the afternoon and evening hours can result in sleeplessness. Some studies have shown that caffeine stays in the body for up to 6 hours after consuming it.
Caregivers who are having trouble sleeping at night because of their older family member’s sleeplessness may want to consider overnight home care. Having a home care provider attend to the senior’s need during the night can allow family caregivers to get some sleep so they have the energy they need for their daytime responsibilities.