There are many joys to be found in growing older. Reflecting on a life well-lived brings with it a certain wisdom, a certain feeling of accomplishment that can’t be taken away that easily. Been there, done that - most elderly people say that when they turn their curious eye toward younger generations. But, not everything is peachy as you grow older. Once we hit a nice, round birthday, most of us will notice that our sleep patterns aren’t what they used to be. If you’re already there, a possible solution might be a weighted blanket - a blanket specially designed to calm the senses, soothe anxieties, and help you find that good night’s sleep again.
Although the terms ‘elderly’ and ‘senior’ get thrown around derogatorily these days, we don’t mean them as an insult. The fact is that all of us become ‘seniors’ at subtly different stages in our lives. This will depend on a lot of factors - genetics, lifestyle, health circumstances, and more. However, once you start noticing a deterioration in your sleep patterns and can’t attribute it to anything in particular (and you’re over 50), chances are that your body is starting to signal that it’s moving past its prime.
Why Do Older People Struggle With Sleep More?
In this day and age, how old you are shouldn’t mean a thing. Mature people are more than capable of new life adventures, new opportunities, and new challenges - sometimes even with more zest and vigor than young people. There’s a snag, however - if you’re older and sleep deprived, you first have to deal with that before attempting to scale a mountain, or going after that second college degree.
Despite what most people believe, seniors need as much sleep as 40-year-olds. Most of the time, though, they won’t get it. The reasons for that are numerous:
- Cases of insomnia are more frequent in people over 65 years of age - around 39% of the elderly struggle with the condition, as opposed to 24% in the 18 - 29 age group.
- The circadian rhythm changes with years - our body’s internal clock that regulates how and when we sleep gets altered as we grow older, as is witnessed by the changes in the brain tissue.
- Certain illnesses, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, bring with them other health problems that can compromise sleep patterns.
- Certain ‘older age’ health conditions require medication that can have a negative impact on sleep, affecting its quality and duration (medication for conditions such as high blood pressure, heart rhythm, anticoagulants, and so on).
5 Ways A Weighted Blanket Can Help With Insomnia In Seniors
Poor sleep quality can be crippling when you’re a senior, but you don’t have to settle for it. You don’t even have to reach for over the counter medication to treat it (in most cases). An expertly-made weighted blanket can help with a myriad of sleeping problems that manifest with age, and ensure that you get a decent night’s sleep. Our blanket uses gentle pressure - deep pressure stimulation or deep touch therapy, as it’s also known - to trigger body’s own sleep-inducing chemicals, and to alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety, and restless leg syndrome that often accompany advanced age (as well as conditions such as old age dementia and Alzheimer’s disease).
If you - or maybe an older loved one - have trouble sleeping, we urge you to give this non-pharmaceutical sleep aid a try. Here are five ways a weighted blanket could help you achieve better (and even rejuvenating) sleep.
SAFETY TIP: Before purchasing a weighted blanket for yourself or an older loved one, keep safety in mind. Chose a blanket that you can easily manipulate. We suggest picking up a 6.8 or a 4.5 kilo blanket. For more information, refer to our extensive buyer’s guide right here. Persons with old age dementia or Alzheimer’s disease should be under close supervision while using our product.
A Weighted Blanket Is Perfect For Relaxing & Reducing Stress Levels
Somehow, most people assume that the older the people get, the less stressful they get, too. Nothing could be further from the truth. Looking at this study, elderly people over the age of 85 seem to feel overwhelmingly stressful, in part thanks to diminished social contact and failing health. Also, simply reminiscing about the ‘good old days’ can be stressful - even people half this age feel a twang of anxiety and stress when they look back at their youth.
A weighted blanket can help with stress management by regulating the release of cortisol (stress hormone). Also, one side-effect of the weighted therapy is the release of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are associated with increased levels of happiness.
It Can Also Help With Managing The Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome
According to a Milligan & Chesson study published in 2002, anywhere between 10 and 35 percent of people that are 65 and older can be affected by the restless leg syndrome (RLS). People who are struggling with this syndrome often feel an urge to fidget and move their legs. They will usually describe the sensation as ‘pins and needles’. To make the matters worse, RLS symptoms will, as a rule, intensify during the night.
There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that points to weighted blankets being a perfect remedy for RLS. The consistent downward pressure soothes the whole body and feels like a giant hug wrapped around the legs. Since the brain is now always getting an input about where the legs are, people feel less of a need to fidget with them. The ‘pins and needles’ sensation is also reported to diminish when a weighted blanket is used.
A Bit Of Added Nigh-Time Pressure Can Also Help With Anxiety Symptoms
Similar to stress, anxiety is also prevalent in the older population - anywhere between 3 and 14 percent of people older than 65 will cope with some form of anxiety. The condition is usually triggered by the overwhelming worry about other health conditions, and by being faced with one’s own mortality. However, using a weighted blanket can help ease that anxiety, as well as numerous sleep problems that stem from it.
According to a study published in Occupational Therapy Journal, weighted blanket therapy ‘is reported to have therapeutic and relaxing effects...and deep pressure has been shown to alleviate anxiety’. In fact, 63% of people who participated in the study reported feeling less anxious after sleeping with a weighted blanket. One additional benefit of that was the fact that their sleep patterns showed marked improvement.
Weighted Blankets Can Improve Sleep Hygiene
No, the term ‘sleep hygiene’ has nothing to do with cleanliness - it refers to sleep habits and overall sleep environment. Not particularly important in our youth (when we can pretty much sleep on a bed of nails if we have to), sleep hygiene becomes particularly important as we get older. As our bodies struggle to get the necessary sleep, we must do everything in our power to make sleep easier on ourselves.
A weighted blanket can become a part of a bedtime ritual designed to signal to our brain that it’s time to quiet down and prepare for sleep. The relaxing and calming pressure that it applies can become an integral part of your sleep hygiene, along with other sleep-improving aids, such as essential oils (chamomile and lavender), or drinking herbal teas before turning in.
They Can Also Assist With Managing the Symptoms of Alzheimer’s & Old Age Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is an incurable brain disorder that affects pretty much the whole of the person, including their memory and behaviour. As it progresses, the disease leaves people unable to care for themselves, perform daily tasks, or even recognize their loved ones. The statistics are relentless - every 3 seconds, a person is diagnosed with either Alzheimer’s or old age dementia (the key difference is that old age dementia affects people in very advanced years, 85 and up - the symptoms, however, are similar).
Alzheimer’s disease is often accompanied by anxiety, depression, and stress, all of which contribute to poor sleep. While there is no cure for most forms of dementia, it is possible to treat those symptoms that lead to bad sleep, thus further incapacitating the patients. Because weighted blankets have been shown to reduce anxiety, ease depression and improve sleep quality, many caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s rely on weighted blankets to help their loved ones rest more comfortably.
Order Your Calming Blanket Today
Good sleep is always important, no matter how old you are. If you’re getting on in years and you’ve noticed your sleep is deteriorating, do something about it. Our weighted blanket is perfect for seniors who do not have underlying conditions that are affecting their sleep patterns. It provides a relaxing, calming sensation, triggering various chemical responses that ease anxiety, stress, and can even help people with old age dementia and Alzheimer’s disease sleep better.
Please note that the content in this blog post shouldn’t be construed as medical advice Please contact your GP for more information. If you have any questions about our product, please send us a message or contact us via Facebook. We will be happy to talk to you about the benefits of using a weighted blanket for the elderly. Depending on your case, we might suggest talking to your doctor before purchasing our product.