Sleep Myths and Solutions for Aging Adults

Older woman in bed

Like it or not, we all age. Although more people are looking a feeling younger, they are still challenged by changes going on internally which may cause insomnia.

In aging adults, sleep related complaints, especially insomnia and wakefulness at night are common . The prevalence of sleep disorders is also known to increase with advancing age. More than half of men and women with advancing age of 65 compalin of at least one sleep related problem-we sleep less, experience more fragmented sleep and spend less time in deep sleep and dream REM sleep. However, regardless of age, good restorative sleep is essential to physical health and emotional well-being.

There are multiple causes of sleep problems , as we age: 1) Poor Sleep Habits such as consumption of too much alcohol before bedtime, and daytime napping more than 45 minutes; 2) Medications such as blood pressure beta blockers, oral contraceptives, steroids like prednisone, inhalers for respiratory problems, diet pills,ADHD drugs, some antidepressants, seizure meds, caffeine containing meds, and Sudafed; 3) Psychological Distress such as death of a loved one, moving from the family home, physical limitations due to illness, and boredom after retirement; 4) Chronic Medical Conditions such as arthritis, congestive heart failure, depression, gastroesophageal reflux, and respiratory disorders (e.g. COPD)

Sleep deprivation can cause some elderly to falsely appear to have dementia symptoms leading their families to feel the need to move their parent to an Assistant Living Facility or Board and Care Home. Older adults need the same amount of sleep as younger adults – ; 7-9 hours per night. Being older doesn’t mean you have to feel tired all the time. There are many things you can do to help get a good night sleep: 1) Follow a regular schedule and don’t deviate on the weekend by more than an hour for wake-up or sleep time,2) Exercise , but not within 3 hours of bedtime, 3) Eat only a light snack before bedtime( not more than 150 calories) ; 4) Avoid caffeine and too much alcohol before bedtime, 5) Drink fewer beverages in the evening, and 6) Relax your body and find soothing sounds to lull you to sleep.

Sources: Web MD- Sleep and Aging, 2014

Healthy sleep medicine.Harvard.edu.-Harvard University, Dec, 2007

A Good Night’s Sleep, National Institute on Aging, Jan, 2015

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