Did you know that sleep problems can be contagious? Not the way that colds are, of course the inability to sleep is not a virus. However, if you are living with your loved one or client and he or she isn’t sleeping well, you will likely not sleep well either. While, science is only just beginning to understand how sleep works, there is consensus among doctors and scientists suggesting that: our bodies and minds heal during sleep. That makes sleep as important as diet and exercise. Therefore, it is vital to consider that if you, your loved one, or client isn’t sleeping well, your bodies and minds will suffer.
REM Sleep Behavior Disorder
Some sleep problems can be dangerous. For example, individuals suffering from REM Sleep Behavior Disorder have the tendency to act out or act on their dreams during sleep. These dreams are frequently violent. Sufferers may also talk or shout during these dreams, which can be scary and disrupt your sleep. Even worse, in some cases the person will grab at or choke the person next to them. Or they can harm themselves, by falling out of bed and in some extreme cases sufferers have been known to jump out of windows. The most frightening part of this disorder is that because the person is in deep REM sleep, it’s hard to wake them up. One sufferer from REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, a 57-year old retired school principal had a recurring dream that aggressive people and snakes were attacking him and his family. In his sleep, he was trying to protect his family—in reality, he was inadvertently punching and kicking his wife.
REM Sleep Behavior Disorder can strike anyone however, it is most prevalent among older adults. If you’re caring for someone with a violent or disruptive sleep problem, it is important that the two of you talk to their doctor right away. Doctors know how dangerous these problems can be and will start a treatment plan right away.
It should be noted that most sleep problems aren’t as obvious as REM Sleep Behavior Disorder.
How are you Sleeping?
Anything that disrupts your sleep can be detrimental to your overall health. An important question to consider for both you and your loved one or client is: “How are you sleeping?” If you, your loved one, or client is experiencing low-quality sleep please report the following to the doctor:
· Any extended period of restlessness before falling asleep.
· Multiple interruptions in your sleep during the night.
· Feeling exhausted — or groggy — when waking up after sleep.
If your loved one or client isn’t getting quality sleep, it must be addressed. In addition, to working with the doctor you might consider accessing the guide How Seniors Can Sleep Better. Included in the guide are important tips and advice to help you and you loved one or client get better sleep. You will also find out more about what causes sleep problems, and what can be done about them. Some of the aches and pains you, your loved one, or client are feeling, or anxiety and stress, might also be cured by better sleep. Therefore, it is vital that you and your loved one or client work together in conjunction with your healthcare team to develop a plan to improve the quality of your sleep.
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Guest blog submitted by Purple Staff and Edited by Dr. Eboni Green