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Experiencing less deep sleep, get sleepy earlier, and wake up earlier are some normal sleep patterns as we age. But did you know that sleep disturbed, tired waking, and some symptoms of insomnia are not part of the normal sleep pattern? When we were younger, sleep is just as important as your physical and mental health.

If older adults do not have enough sleep, they are most likely to suffer from excessive sleepiness during the day and more nightfalls, the worst part of which is that it can lead to depression and memory problems. Lack of sleep in older adults may also lead to serious health problems, such as increased risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, weight problems, and breast cancer in women. Good night’s sleep helps improve your body and immune system to prevent this disease from occurring.

It is very important to understand the causes of these problems in order to improve the quality of your sleep. The following may help to identify the problem so that you can have a good night’s rest and improve the quality of your life.

Tip 1: Understand how sleep changes as you age.

As you age your body produces lower levels of growth hormone, you are likely to experience a decrease in slow waves or deep sleep (especially a refreshing part of the sleep cycle). When this happens, you produce less melatonin, which means that you will often experience more fragmented sleep and wake up more often during the night. That’s why many of us consider ourselves to be “light sleepers” as we age. You may also

  • Want to go to bed earlier in the evening and wake up earlier in the morning.
  • Have to spend more time in bed at night to get the hours of sleep you need, or make up for the shortfall by taking a nap during the day.

In most cases, such sleep changes are normal and do not indicate a sleep problem.

Sleep problems not linked to age

It’s common to experience occasional sleep problems at any age. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms on a regular basis, you may have a sleep disorder.

  • Having trouble falling asleep even if you feel tired and get back to sleep when you wake up.
  • Irritable or sleepy during the day.
  • Difficulty in keeping up, watching or driving and concentrating.
  • Use alcohol or pills to fall asleep.

Difficulty controlling temper and emotion.

Tip 2: Identify underlying problems

By identifying all possible causes, treatment can be tailored accordingly. Many cases of insomnia or sleep difficulties are caused by underlying but highly treatable causes.

  • Stress
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Trauma
  • Medications
  • Other health problems

Common causes of insomnia and sleep problems in elderly adults.

Poor sleeping habits and sleeping environment. These include irregular sleep hours, alcohol consumption before bedtime, and sleeping on the TV. Make sure that your room is comfortable, dark and quiet, and that your bedtime rituals are conducive to sleep.

Pain or medical conditions. Health conditions such as frequent urination, pain, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, osteoporosis, nighttime heartburn, and Alzheimer’s disease may interfere with sleep. Talk to your doctor about any medical issues.

Menopause and post-menopause. Many women find that hot flashes and night sweats can interrupt sleep during menopause. Even after menopause, sleep problems can continue. Improving your daily habits, especially diet and exercise, can help.

Lack of exercise.  If you’re too sedentary, you may never feel sleepy all the time. Regular daytime exercise can promote good sleep.

Stress. Significant changes in life can lead to stress. Nothing improves your mood better than finding someone you can talk to face to face.

The lack of social commitment. Social activities, family and work can keep your activity up and prepare your body for a good night’s sleep. If you are retired, try volunteering, joining the seniors ‘ group, or taking an adult education class.

Disorders of sleep. Restless legs Syndrome (RLS) and sleep-disordered breathing — such as snoring and sleep apnea — are more common in older adults.

Tip 3: Improve sleep habits

In most cases, you can improve your sleep by addressing emotional issues, improving your sleeping environment, and choosing healthier daytime habits. Being older doesn’t mean you’ve got to be tired all the time. You can do a lot of things to help you get a good night’s sleep. Here are a few ideas:

  • Follow the regular schedule for sleep. Go to sleep and get up at the same time every day, weekends or when you’re on the road.
  • If you can, avoid napping in the late afternoon or evening. It can keep you up at night.
  • Develop soothing bedtime rituals. Take the time to relax before bedtime every night. Some people read a book, listen to soothing music, or take a warm bath.
  • Don’t read from a backlit device at night. The light from these devices may make it hard for you to fall asleep. And alarming or unsettling shows or movies, such as horror movies, may keep you awake.
  • Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature and low lighting.
  • Avoid eating large meals before bedtime and stay away from caffeine in the afternoon.
  • Skip sleeping pills and alcohol at it does not really help in getting a god night sleep.

If you can’t fully avoid napping because you feel tired during the day. Try take power naps for 15 minutes to fees refresh, Nap only during the early afternoon and nap on a comfortable position to be fully recharged.

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