We spend a quarter of our lifespan in bed, regrouping, resting and preparing our bodies and brain for the crucial activities that we have to execute during the day . That’s why when one of us has a bad sleep, we feel grumpy, easily irritated as we did not get the full rest our body needs and become too tired to be as productive as we want to be. Relying on cups of coffee, naps or even cold showers to get us through the day.
However, there is a large population living around us that struggle with this almost every single day, our care home residents, who crave the satisfaction of a good night sleep. Research has shown us that many people in care homes have fragmented rest/wake patterns and suffer from chronic sleep disturbances . Furthermore, many of these residents rely on the carers to adjust their care and take into account their lack of good sleep. However, most carers are unable to do so without an objective measure of sleep quality. Chronic poor sleep quality feeds into a vicious cycle that not just impacts the quality of life of the residents, but also places a big hit on the care homes’ budgets (see below).
Figure 1 - Illustration of the consequences of poor sleep, which constantly feeds back on itself leading to a vicious chronic cycle.
Additionally, researchers have proven that sleep is an important factor in many ageing-associated conditions, especially Alzheimer’s. During sleep, our body clears out extracellular metabolites that build up during the day. These metabolites include amyloid beta, a major contributor to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s. However, this crucial clearance mechanism is diminished during sleep disturbances. Hence, healthy sleep is shown to play an important role in maintaining brain health with age, and may play a key role in AD prevention .
Therefore, care homes are not only suffering from the consequences of poor sleep, they are also unable to enjoy the benefits of healthy sleep would have on their residents, carers, nurses and the residents' families - who would gain peace of mind knowing that their loved ones are sleeping well when they are. However, significantly improving sleep quality is nearly impossible without having an objective measure of sleep quality that is cost-effective and can be implemented on a wide scale .
In order to tackle the lack of sleep or poor sleep within our care homes, we need to acknowledge that the physical environment and practices in care homes can indeed affect residents’ sleep and night-time experience . Therefore, care homes are able to adjust their care to optimise our residents’ sleep and with Streamcare, this can be achieved in a cost-effective and person-centred manner.
Streamcare gives care homes access to real-time data concerning the sleep quality of their residents. This can then be used by care homes in two main ways to improve sleep:
In a rapid review conducted by the Centre for Policy on Ageing , it was proven that residents’ sleep can indeed be improved in care homes by simple interventions such as acupressure, aromatherapy, structured physical activity, bright light therapy and multi-component non-pharmacological interventions. Therefore, Streamcare provides an objective measure of sleep quality, allowing care homes to assess these interventions and optimise these interventions to improve their residents’ sleep quality.
Streamcare will allow care homes an opportunity to detect when their residents have had a good night sleep and so are able to investigate the factors that led to this. Thus, carers can attempt to replicate these nights as much as possible, whilst the opposite can take place when the residents have had a really poor sleep.
Finally, all signs indicate that the future is in better sleep. Our ageing society is giving rise to difficult challenges that we need to act upon urgently. However, by ignoring the role that poor sleep plays in these challenges, tackling them will remain a difficult task.
Adam, S., Chen-Edinboro, L., Wu, M. and Yaffe, K. (2014). Impact of sleep on the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 27(6), pp.478-483.
Ellmers, T., Arber, S., Luff, R., Eyers, I. and Young, E. (2013). Factors affecting residents’ sleep in care homes. Nursing Older People, 25(8), pp.29-32.
Cedernaes, J., Osorio, R., Varga, A., Kam, K., Schiöth, H. and Benedict, C. (2017). Candidate mechanisms underlying the association between sleep-wake disruptions and Alzheimer's disease. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 31, pp.102-111.
Ju, Y., Duntley, S., Fagan, A., Morris, J. and Holtzman, D. (2012). Sleep Disruption and Risk of Preclinical Alzheimer Disease (P01.081). Neurology, 78, pp.P01.081-P01.081.
Centre for Policy on Ageing (2014). The effectiveness of training and other interventions in care homes. [online] London: Centre for Policy on Ageing, pp.1-60. Available at: http://www.cpa.org.uk/information/reviews/CPA-Rapid-Review-Care-Home-Interventions.pdf [Accessed 11 Apr. 2018].