Everyone experiences occasional sleepless nights but insomnia affects a high population of aging adults. Up to 48 percent of aging adults experience insomnia which cause them to have trouble falling asleep. There are also others who wake up several times during the night or wake up way too early and have trouble falling back to sleep. Let us learn more about insomnia in aging adults and how we can prevent it to achieve better quality sleep.
Changes in Sleep with Aging
Sleep patterns change as we age. An aging adult’s internal clock seems to advance which makes them more tired much earlier in the evening and causes them to wake up really early in the morning. This can lead to aging adults taking more naps during the day and cause them to experience difficulty in sleeping at night. A bad sleep routine usually becomes a habit but they still need the same amount of sleep as younger people to restore their energy. Experts recommend aging adults have at least seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
Causes of Insomnia in the Elderly
Many factors can contribute to insomnia in the elderly such as the following:
- Medications – High blood pressure medication, antidepressants, nasal decongestants
- Sleep Patterns – Normal changes occur in our sleep patterns as we age
- Sleep Disorders – Restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea
- Health Conditions – Alzheimer’s, dementia, diabetes, chronic pain, respiratory diseases
- Lifestyle Habits – Lack of physical activity, napping
- Mental Illness – Anxiety, depression
- Smoking – Smoking before bedtime
- Caffeine or Alcohol – Consuming excessively or before bedtime
- Chronic Stress – Stress that prolongs
Preventing Insomnia in Aging Adults
It is always good to seek professional advice regarding your insomnia but it is also recommended to try to address it first. Here are several dos and don’ts that can help you better manage your poor sleeping habits.
- Establish a regular sleep schedule, go to bed and wake up at regular timings every day
- Be physically active during the day but no later than four hours before bedtime
- Sleep in a quiet, dark, and cool room
- Take a warm bath before bedtime or practice relaxation techniques that can calm your nerves
- If you have been tossing and turning for twenty minutes, go out of the room and do relaxation activities like listening to soothing music
- Do not eat heavy meals or spicy food before bedtime
- Do not consume caffeine or alcohol three hours before bedtime
- Do not nap during the day
- Do not drink excessive amounts of liquid before bed
- Do not use bright lights like the television or cell phone 30 minutes before bedtime
Treatment of Insomnia in the Elderly
Treating insomnia for the elderly starts with addressing concerns that may lead to sleep disruptions. These may include medical conditions or medication that can interrupt regular sleep patterns. Elderly adults need to change their sleeping habits to promote better sleep. These include creating a calm environment in the bedroom, following a regular sleep routine, and practicing relaxation techniques.