Changes in the clock during DST can adversely affect the mental health of many older adults. Let us look at some simple tips for seniors to deal with Daylight savings every year.
Daylight plays a significant role in our lives related to our sleep cycles and appetite. Setting the clock ahead one hour every year during DST confuses the body, which may be unable at times to adjust to the new (albeit temporary) reality.
There are some ways to overcome the impact and reduce the effect of the symptoms. In this article, you will come across different ways to help seniors deal with daylight savings and sundowners syndrome.
How Does Daylight Savings Time Impact Seniors?
DST can impact the mental health of seniors in a couple of ways:
- It can cause sleep-related problems because of the sudden change in the sleep cycle. Lack of sleep can be particularly dangerous because it increases the risk of injuries and falls in seniors.
- Studies have shown that heart attack instances go up at the beginning of DST in November every year and at the end in March.
- Instances of depression and anxiety, which are very common in older adults, also spike during the beginning and end of the DST cycle.
- Nearly 20% of Alzheimer’s patients are known to be impacted by “sundowners syndrome.” DST tends to enhance the effects of sundowners syndrome.
The best and most important tip to dealing with DST is to ensure that you get enough sleep. Most of the tips in our article are intended to make sure that you get the right amount of sleep by cutting down distractions.
What Are The Ways For Seniors To Deal With Daylight Savings?
#1 Use the bedroom only for sleeping:
Many people use the bedroom for performing various activities like eating food, watching TV in bed, reading, and other activities. These activities are known to be distractive. These distractions become a barrier to your sleep time.
Due to this, you are unable to sleep. You should allocate your bedroom only for sleeping. Make sure that it is cool and dark to sleep comfortably. A quiet ambiance can lead to sound sleep for elders.
#2 Try to sleep consistently
Maintaining a sleeping pattern is essential. Having a good eating pattern is vital for health and wellness. Maintaining a sleeping and waking up routine is necessary. Try to wake up and sleep at the same time every day.
#3 Try to exercise and spend time outside
Exercise is vital for the overall well-being of a particular person. It not only prevents osteoporosis in older adults but also reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Similarly, going outside in the presence of natural sunlight is essential.
Performing cardiovascular exercises like swimming, gardening, and jogging can help seniors fall asleep faster and earlier. It helps to regulate the natural rhythm of the body. Going out in the sunlight will help you promote balance in your mind and body.
#4 Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Older adults should avoid alcohol and caffeine before sleeping. Both of these are known to disrupt sleep. If they consume alcohol, they will suffer from dizziness and won’t be able to sleep properly. Consuming caffeine is known to affect melatonin levels.
Melatonin is a hormone produced in the body to regulate a person’s sleep cycle. Due to the consumption of caffeine, melatonin levels go down. Thus you are not able to sleep properly.
#5 Don’t take naps in between:
Older adults tend to take small naps during the day. This causes them to sleep during the day but lose sleep during the night. To prevent these small naps, it is essential to keep yourself busy during the daytime.
You can get involved in outdoor activities like gardening, walking, or even sitting on the patio. If you think you must take a nap, make sure that it lasts for not more than 15 minutes.
#6 Set the environment and try to eliminate disturbance:
Older adults wake up quickly if there are disturbances. You can set the mood at least an hour before sleeping. By doing this, you can eliminate all the disturbances and noise. This may help you sleep properly.
Try to consume your dinner at least two hours before sleeping. Eating dinner as early as possible is good for your body and leads to good sleep.
People who suffer from Sundowners Syndrome tend to show changes in their behavior as the sun begins to set. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease often suffer from this problem because it is related to confusion and memory loss.
Sundown’s syndrome is also called late-day confusion or sundowning. It starts during the late afternoon and is known to continue till night. It can cause a whole range of symptoms, including agitation, pacing, wandering, confusion, disorientation, and anxiety.
People who live with dementia go through behavioral symptoms. People who go from the moderate stage of Alzheimer’s disease also suffer from behavioral changes.
There is no proper reason why these factors cause changes in sleep patterns, behavior; they also go through arthritis, restlessness like thirst and hunger, behavioral changes like fatigue.
What are the symptoms of sundowners syndrome?
Sundowning is known to occur between 4:30 pm to 11 pm. It can worsen the condition during the winter months as the daylight hours decrease. The signs and symptoms which a person suffers from are-
- Excessive anxiety
- Discomfort and pain
The symptoms can worsen in the late day period. It can become difficult for you to manage.
What are the causes of Sundowners syndrome?
Researchers and doctors are not sure about what leads to sundowners syndrome. Some scientists believe that various changes occur in the brain that affects the body clock of the person.
There is a region in the brain that is known to break the signals of the circadian rhythm in people who go through Alzheimer’s. This may lead to sundown syndrome.
They may feel:
- Suffering from sleep problems
- Being tired
- Suffering from pain.
The older adults who go through the sundowners syndrome suffer from being tired or excessive frustration by the end of the day. If you see any person going through this syndrome, then you can help them in their life by managing their emotions by keeping them preoccupied.
The triggers of sundowning syndrome are-
- Not being able to identify between dreams and reality.
- The presence of less light in the house and more shadow. It can lead to confusion and fear.
What things can you do to stay calm while going through sundowners syndrome?
- Add more comfort to your sleeping area
- Try to listen to relaxing music or go for a walk as exercise, play cards, read books.
- Try to eliminate the distractions in the house such as TVs, down or off, loud noises, phones.
- Ask your family members to make less noise.
- Make sure your room temperature is fixed.
- Try to close the curtains and blinds. Try to light up your room as it is known to make you more upset.
Daylight Affects Sundowners:
Light plays an integral role in setting up one’s internal clock or circadian rhythm. So yes, there is no doubt that daylight affects sundowners. The symptoms may worsen during the late day and lead to frustration and anxiety.
When the clock is set an hour back, the day begins early and therefore ends earlier as well. This increases the confusion that is caused due to loss of light and therefore impacts people who are affected by Sundowner syndrome quite significantly.
To overcome this, you can work on being out in the daylight. Try to eliminate darkness as much as you can. It will help you to set your internal clock again. These factors can reduce the symptoms of sundowning syndrome.
The world can be a confusing place for seniors as it is, without the added confusion of moving the clock around by one hour during daylight savings time. When DST comes into place, you might spend a few days adjusting to the change in timings with your internal body clock.
Many people who have dementia and Alzheimer’s disease suffer from sundowners syndrome. When DST comes in, the day starts earlier and ends earlier as well, which may cause the sufferer to become confused easily and start feeling the symptoms of low light more often.
It is essential to set your environment appropriately for being healthy. You can set a daily routine that will help you overcome sundowners syndrome. Make sure you go through some of these tips in these articles so that you can avoid becoming agitated due to DST.
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