Sleep deprivation resulting from long-term insomnia affects 40 percent of people with disabilities, with only half getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night. The effects of sleep deprivation include daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and mood disorders, so it’s vital that people with limited mobility and other disabilities do all they can to increase the chances of a good night’s sleep.
If you have a condition that limits your mobility, insomnia and other sleep disorders can be something of a catch–22.
- Your condition makes it harder to sleep well at night because it’s difficult to find a comfortable position; because of pain and stiffness; or because even the act of getting into bed is challenging.
- Poor sleep can worsen your condition or make it difficult to cope with the physical limitations and psychological impact of limited mobility.
There is no easy solution to poor sleep, but sleep hygiene lays a foundation that can make it easier to fall asleep quickly and wake up refreshed.
Follow a Sleep Routine
Your body’s circadian rhythm affects when you feel sleepy and when you wake up, releasing hormones and neurotransmitters to prepare you for sleep or the day ahead. You can’t directly control the circadian rhythm, but you can influence it with routines and environmental cues.
Sleep scientists have found that sticking to a routine, even when you don’t feel like it, can help to improve sleep. If you go to sleep at the same time every night, your circadian rhythm will eventually adjust.
Decide when you want to go to bed and get up. Stick to that routine every night, including on weekends. Avoid sleeping in late, even if you’re tired. It might be challenging at first, but your internal clock will adapt over time so that you will feel sleepy at your scheduled bedtime.
Wind Down Before Going To Bed
Your circadian rhythm is also affected by your activity immediately before bed. If you do stressful and demanding tasks in the hours before your scheduled bedtime, your body won’t release sleep hormones like melatonin, and you’ll struggle to fall asleep.
Give yourself time to wind-down and relax as bedtime approaches. Many people find meditation, music, reading, or a bath helps them to relax and get into the right frame of mind for sleep.
Use Your Bed and Bedroom For Sleep Only
People with mobility disorders might be tempted to use their beds during the day, especially if it’s an adjustable bed that’s comfortable when sitting and lying down. But the evidence shows that associating your sleeping space with other activities is counterproductive.
Cognitive-behavioral therapists use a technique called stimulus control to help people with insomnia. The idea is to avoid associating your bed and bedroom with stimuli that aren’t sleep-related. When you watch TV or spend daytime hours in bed, your body and mind associate it with a wakeful state. This is called conditioned arousal.
Sleep therapists advise people with insomnia to:
- Go to bed only when sleepy.
- Avoid stressful or stimulating activities in the bedroom (except sex).
- If you’re still awake 30 minutes after you go to bed, get up and do something else for a while.
- Avoid too much napping when not in bed.
For some people with mobility limitations, this advice is not practical. But, even if it’s a struggle, you should try to spend at least some of the day out of your bed.
Exercise During the Day
Regular exercise can be particularly troublesome for people with mobility disorders. However, even gentle exercise during the day can help you to sleep better at night. Medical professionals advise between 30 and 45 minutes of moderate exercise each day. If you can’t manage a 30-minute walk, try simple stretching exercises.
Get a Comfortable Bed and Mattress
Your bed should be a haven of comfort and relaxation. For many people with mobility limitations, their bed is just the opposite. Getting into bed can be stressful and physically demanding. The bed itself may be uncomfortable, especially if you struggle to find a relaxing and pain-free position.
An adjustable home hospital bed may help. Modern adjustable beds have motorized adjustments to raise and lower the bed’s surface, making it easier to get on and off the bed. They also have head and foot adjustments that can help you to sit up, lie down, and maintain a comfortable position during the night.
To learn more about how our home hospital beds and mattresses help people with limited mobility to get a good night’s sleep, contact us today to talk to a home hospital bed expert.
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