Sleep expert Dr. Rafael Pelayo observes, “Your life is a reflection of how you sleep, and how you sleep is a reflection of your life.” Sleep impacts mood, physical health and intellectual function.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that adequate sleep, a minimum of 7 hours night, is associated with good health. In a three year longitudinal study, Harvard researchers found that young adults with insomnia were 400% more likely to develop depression.The National Sleep Foundation reports that poor sleep is associated with impairment in a variety of cognitive functions, including learning. The Rehabilitation and Sleep Institute reports that 40% of people with disabilities identify chronic sleep problems.Sleep problems are pronounced in people with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord damage.
Developments in technology have made a wide selection of beds available to people with disabilities who live in their homes. Adaptive beds have a variety of characteristics that include variations in the bed’s foundation, undercarriage, height, depth, mattress, safety railings, and operational mechanisms. Adaptive beds can be manually controlled or powered by hydraulic systems and electrical, low-voltage motors.
Electric beds are helpful to people who develop physical disabilities as a result of such medical conditions. Wireless remote controls can adjust mattresses to different positions. Mattress adjustments can extend from the elevation of head and knees to the elevation of the bed’s entire mattress. The independent positioning of the upper and lower body diminishes bedsores that result from prolonged pressure and also facilitates meaningful activities such as socialization, reading and writing.
Restorative sleep for people with disabilities begins, as it does for all people, before bedtime. Health habits impact both the length and quality of sleep. Some of these factors include natural light, exercise, nutrition, alcohol, stimulants, and the bedroom environment.Unfortunately, for people with health-related disability, sleep often poses special problems. For example, some of the recommendations for good sleep hygiene---do nothing in bed but sleep and have sex---- are difficult to follow for people who spend much of their time in bed. The bed's quality is especially important for people with severe disabilities.
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