24 THE QUEENS COURIER • HEALTH • JANUARY 6, 2022 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
How to improve sleep in the face of daily stresses and work-life demands
Do you get enough sleep each night? Do
your loved ones? Or are you a “short sleeper,”
someone who routinely sleeps less than
seven hours per 24-hour period - something
known as short sleep duration.
Th e American Academy of Sleep
Medicine and Sleep Research Society both
recommend that adults aged 18 to 60
sleep at least seven hours each night to
promote optimal health and well-being.
Increasingly, researchers are fi nding that
poor sleep quality and duration is associated
with a slew of negative health conditions
such as diabetes, obesity, stroke and
Most U.S. adults (88%) understand quality
sleep is critically important to overall
health, but a third of Americans (33%)
regularly sleep less than the recommended
minimum seven hours per night, and
44% do not have a serious sleep routine,
according to a consumer survey by
Tranquility weighted blanket brand. In the
same survey, general stress and anxiety
was the top barrier to getting good sleep.
So, how can you improve sleep in the face
of daily stresses and work-life demands?
1) Establish a sleep routine including
wind-down rituals and a consistent bedtime,
even on weekends. Wind-down rituals
could include bathing at night, turning
down lights, setting your devices to nighttime
mode or Do Not Disturb, relaxing
with a weighted blanket, and cutting off
eating and drinking several hours before
your established bedtime.
2) Incorporate small, realistic changes,
like adjusting your immediate environment
with cooler nighttime temperatures,
new bedding or limiting evening screen
time, versus more drastic changes that may
be hard to maintain, like making a career
change or cutting out coff ee cold turkey.
Giving up caff eine drinks can improve
sleep, but less than two in 10 (19%) adults
said they would be willing to try this tactic,
whereas about a third would be willing
to change bedding or adjust screen
3) Tie your new routine to
existing habits. Behavioral scientists
say we are more successful
adopting new healthy
habits when they are tethered
to existing ones. If you watch
TV or read to unwind before
bed, adding a weighted blanket
that elicits a calming sensation
through the application
of deep touch pressure
the relaxing eff ect. If
you work out in
a d d i n g
minutes of gentle yoga, breathwork or
meditation to the end of your session can
help prep your mind and body for sleep.
4) Give yourself time to settle into your
new routine. Th ere will be days where family,
social or work obligations disrupt your
new pattern, and cutting off screen time
or eating and drinking well in advance of
bedtime is an impossibility.
Th is is where
r o u t i n e
or weighted blanket can come in handy,
helping to quickly quiet a busy mind or
body close to bedtime. Eventually, you’ll
be reaping the health benefi ts of consistent,
— Courtesy of BPT
The geriatric orphan and aging
Th e geriatric orphan is described as
an elderly person with no close friends
nor survivor or family members who
are available to provide emotional support.
He or she has had signifi cant others
and lost them to death, distance or fractured
relationships. Th is individual has
not, however, desired to be alone. Th e
researcher, Boyack suggests, “It is imperative
to establish a surrogate network,
assist the individual through their grief,
resolve any unfi nished business and seek
appropriate resources for maintenance
in the community as long as desired and
able.” However for some, it can be a welcome
relief to be among others in a congregate
or institutional setting despite a
commonly held belief against residing in
a nursing facility or setting.
As we observe this individual we
begin to understand the three Rs that
defi ne the tasks of aging as identifi ed by
the researcher, Cynthia Kelly. Th ey are
“accepting reality, fulfi lling responsibility,
and exercising rights.”
Realty has to do with accepting one’s
capacities in the health, social and fi nancial
Responsibility includes planning for
one’s survivors and for making the best
choices regarding the remainder of life.
Rights include exercising the right to
move at one’s own pace, the right to privacy,
and the right to respect.
Th e geriatric orphan’s plight is oft en
compounded by the loneliness of living
alone. Loneliness for all intent and purpose
can be an amorphous state of longing
and feelings of isolation.
Th ere is little information on the eff ects
of living alone as it pertains to survival
and satisfaction. Males who live
alone or with someone other than a
spouse are thought to be at a disadvantage
in terms of survival, while it seems
to make less diff erence to women. Both
sexes are equally aff ected by income, race,
physical activity and employment, but
these are variable eff ects. Th e researcher,
Moustakas sees loneliness “as a condition
of human life that sustains, extends and
deepens humanity.” In a recent research
study on loneliness it was claimed that
“loneliness is evidence of the capacity to
love. Th e degree of attachment is directly
correlated with the felt loss when detachment
Florence Nightingale refl ected on the
fact that pets are an excellent companion
for the elderly person who is living with
a long term illness and with feelings of
unrelenting loneliness. Studies concerning
the value of a pet that lives with an
isolated aged individual began appearing
with popular literature around the 1980s.
One reason for an old person to own a
pet is companionship and what that pet
can bring to the relationship.
For those who care for an elder, here
are several questions that can be asked
that would aid in a clearer understanding
and reason for that loneliness:
Does the elderly individual reply when
Does the elderly individual appear anxious,
withdrawn, apathetic, or even hostile
as demonstrated in the body language?
Is he/she unable to articulate their personal
Is he/she eager for visitors but becomes
distressed when they leave?
As a Registered Professional Nurse
who has worked and cared for the aged, I
urge the caregivers of a geriatric orphan,
whether at home or in a facility, to
become familiar with a technique known
as verbal intervention. Here are several
suggested interventional approaches.
Ask whether the patient feels lonely
Devote time with the individual by
either sitting quietly or open with a
mutually shared conversation.
Inform the person when you will be
available to talk again. However keep
your appointment as promised.
Engage him/her with informal discussion
pertaining to their feelings, with the
purpose of obtaining insight into what
the individual is sensing.
Don’t expect an immediate response
with that fi rst interven tion.
When asking these questions consider
the emotional trauma they may cause.
Never force a response brought on by a
question which may cause anger.
Here is a fi nal thought. Alice, an elderly
Ornstein is a
nursing organization. He
has specialized in the care
of older adults and has
published many articles on
the subject. He has done
post-graduate work in gerontology
and has taught
at several universities.
In 2013, he was inducted
into the Nursing Hall of
Fame at Teachers College,
nursing home resident once framed it
in the following manner. “Loneliness is a
devastating illness, more so than physical
illness and can be fatal. Some people
can overcome a little, but the older
the individual is, the more hazardous the
loneliness becomes. A hug or touch is so
Here then is a quotable quote that succinctly
expresses a healthier direction for
those who live with the pain brought on
by an emotional reaction.
“Hope never abandons you, you
abandon it.” Anon.
Sheldon Ornstein Ed.D, RN, LNHA