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HORIZON BLOG

Dad Spends So Much Time Sleeping

 

Question

"My 92-year-old father seems to sleep a lot more than he used to. He actually takes multiple naps in the middle of the day. I also think he goes to bed right after the news at night, and sleeps until seven or eight o’clock in the morning. He lives alone, so without asking him I can’t verify his sleep patterns.

Should I be worried that he’s sleeping too much? Or is it normal for someone his age? He usually doesn’t even go to his bed to lie down; he falls asleep in his easy chair.

In all truth, I’m an extremely busy person who has never napped since toddler days, and I don’t ever remember him napping while I was growing up."

 

Answer

Falling asleep in your recliner in the middle of the day is not that unusual in a warm, quiet house for anyone, at any age.

Good sleep is important to achieve optimal health at all ages, too. A midday nap is not harmful. There are some who consider it ideal, and regenerative.

Many factors affect sleep, such as stress, medication, and activity level. It’s rare to find someone in their 90s who doesn’t take any medications, so I would start researching there. Some medications cause drowsiness, which does not lead to good sleep. Others can cause insomnia, and he may not be sleeping well at night because of them. Additionally, it matters what time of day you take some medications.

Stress, worry, and depression can significantly effect how much or how little we sleep. Just because he’s 90 doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have concerns. Do not discount his mental state. 

Another area to explore is his overall health. A poorly -functioning heart does not oxygenate the brain well, and may make him sluggish. It also goes without saying that all his other major organs need to function well for him to be at peak health.

It would be helpful to explore your father’s overall sleep health. There are some wonderful watches and fitness bands you wear on your wrist that provide a precise answer to your worries. They measure REM sleep, hours slept, times, and more. Getting Dad to wear one round the clock may be a challenge if he’s resistant to the concept. But even if he just wore it during the day, you would see just how much he really sleeps in the chair.

I have given you a lot to think about think about, and that’s because sleep can be linked to many aspects of our lives. You’re very astute to notice and be attentive to a potential issue.

Approaching the subject with your father may require some finesse. You may want to ask casually in conversation how he’s sleeping. Maybe you can test out one of the smart watches or fitness bands and share your own sleep history and patterns with him. That alone could spark his curiosity, and start the dialogue. 

You know your father best. When you notice a change as you have, it’s a good idea to dive in a little bit deeper. If you could stay with him a few days, you could observe firsthand how much he sleeps. Siblings might have some information. Lastly, his physician is a good source for consultation.

I wish you success on your journey with Dad.

 

About this Post

Written By

Mary Haynor

President & CEO

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