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Rest Assured: Sleep Workshop Helps Seniors Get Better Night’s Rest



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Gone are the simple days of counting sheep to aid in falling asleep. Today’s older adults are experiencing a wide range of sleep problems keeping them up at night, and it is affecting their functioning during the day.

With sleep deprivation being a public health problem that many seniors can relate to, Newtown Senior Center Assistant Judy Thomas was inspired to organize a Sleep Workshop for members to learn about how to get a more restful sleep.

More than 30 seniors attended the afternoon program on September 13, which began with a catered lunch from Newtown Pizza Palace.

Newtown resident Tracy Brady, executive director of business development and community relations at Visiting Angels, led the presentation.

“Visiting Angels is a non-medical, in-home care agency, so I work with a lot of seniors, and we talk about the different needs that people have living in their home or aging in place…” Ms Brady said. “Today, I’m here to talk to you about sleep.”

She prefaced her talk by adding, “I’m going to confess, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a nurse, and I’m not a clinician, and I don’t sleep — but here I am giving you this presentation.”

The audience chuckled, and she asked just how much sleep people think adults need at night.

After participants called out a variety of answers, Ms Brady revealed that adults require between seven to nine hours of sleep each night, but the exact time depends on the person.

Sufficient sleep is vital, because it helps clean the mind, regulates the release of important hormones, slows the aging process, boosts the immune system, improves brain function, and reduces cortisol levels.

However, if someone is not getting enough sleep, there are negative consequences that can shorten a person’s lifespan. Sleep deprivation can result in problems ranging from irritability and cognitive impairment to risk of obesity, heart disease, and stroke.

Ms Brady stressed that even getting just one hour less of sleep at night affects daytime functioning.

“During Daylight Saving Time, when we spring forward and lose an hour of sleep, that following Monday, studies show that there is an increase in accidents and heart attacks,” she said. “When we fall back, there is a decrease in accidents and heart attacks.”

To improve sleep, she suggested creating a relaxing routine, forming a regular sleep schedule, and limiting stimuli, such as coffee or wine.

People can even keep a sleep diary, then discuss their concerns with a physician or sleep specialist.

Throughout the presentation, Ms Brady took time to answer everyone’s questions related to sleep and provided a variety of educational handouts for attendees to take with them. For more information on sleep, she recommended visiting cdc.gov/sleep.

Visiting Angels living assistance services are offered in Fairfield, Litchfield, and New Haven Counties. To learn more about Visiting Angels, contact the Brookfield location at 203-740-0230 and visit visitingangels.com/brookfield.

Visiting Angels Executive Director Tracy Brady leads a Sleep Workshop at the Newtown Senior Center September 13. Her presentation included explaining the benefits of sleep as well as the negative effects of sleep deprivation. —Bee Photo, Silber
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