Many people with physical disabilities can suffer from sleepless nights. Unfortunately as we age, getting a good nights sleep can become a real issue. 40% of people with disabilities report issues with sleep long-term, and it’s more likely to occur in people who suffer a traumatic brain injury.
There are many factors which can lead to poor sleep, including:
- pain, discomfort and difficulty repositioning
- worry and anxiety
- inactivity during the day
Poor sleep or not getting enough sleep can affect your overall sense of well-being and worsen other conditions, including pain and mood disorders like depression and anxiety.
Why do people with a disability incur sleep problems?
Disabilities come in all forms and sleep disturbances are unique to each individual, however there are common traits that are universal:
- chemical changes in the brain – this occurs in people that suffer brain injuries
- chronic pain – almost all injuries inflict prolonged pain in people with disabilities, which is a major cause of sleep deprivation
- too much caffeine during the day negatively affects sleeping habits
- depression and anxiety can affect a person’s ability to fall asleep effectively and can cause issues with early morning waking.
Simple Ways to Improve Your Sleep
There are plenty of simple ways to improve your sleep, from making changes to your sleeping environment and getting more sunlight and activity through the day, to asking your doctor or pharmacist to review your medication.
Creating the Right Environment for Sleep
Creating the right environment for sleep is a good place to start if you’re having trouble either getting to or staying asleep at night. Ideally, your bedroom is used for sleeping, so remove unnecessary light, noise and distractions:
- our bodies respond to light, so dark or blackout curtains or blinds are preferable
- if possible, don’t leave electronic devices like your mobile phone, computer or tablet plugged in, and at the very least, set them to silent so you’re not disturbed
- make sure your bedroom is a comfortable temperature and your pyjamas and bedding are not too light or too heavy. Keep a throw handy, in case you need additional warmth during the night
- keep anything you may need during the night within easy reach – a glass of water, medication, tissues – for minimal disturbance
- if you have difficulty changing position in bed, you may benefit from bed rails, a self-help bed pole or an adjustable bed.
Good Sleep Habits
Train yourself for a successful night’s sleep with good sleep habits, both during the day and night, such as:
- exercise regularly throughout the day. For people with disabilities, it has been reported that exercise can help reduce depression and anxiety, thus improving sleep
- spend some time outside each day. Natural sunlight affects our melatonin levels, which play an important role in regulating sleep patterns
- avoid caffeine (coffee and tea), nicotine and alcohol in the afternoon and evening, and limit the number of cups you have during the day
- limit napping during the day to no more than 20 minutes
- have a sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up at about the same time every day
- maintain good eating habits. Avoid going to bed on a full or empty stomach
- meditation or relaxation exercises before bed are excellent ways to unwind a busy mind and can have a long-term positive effect on your general well-being
- don’t watch television, play computer games or surf the internet in your bedroom before bed. The idea is to let your mind and body unwind and prepare for rest in a peaceful, non-stimulating environment
- don’t just lie there, wide awake. If you can’t fall asleep, or you wake during the night and cannot go back to sleep, get out of bed and do something relaxing until you feel sleepy.
When to Talk to Your Health Care Provider
If you’ve tried making changes to your sleep habits, but you’re still having difficulty getting good quality sleep, consider speaking to your doctor or health professional. Your doctor may need to review your existing medication and treatments, as well as offering further insight into the cause of your sleep problems.
At Power Mobility, we have an extensive range of adjustable beds, recliners and healthcare aids to assist your comfort and sleeping success at home. Please call us on 07 3265 4663 to speak with one of our experienced staff members, or get in touch with us online.