- News & Events
News & Events
Sleep Patterns Change for Older Adults
Do you wake up multiple times in the middle of the night? Do you have trouble going to sleep or staying asleep? If Westminster Village residents are having trouble sleeping, there could be a number of different reasons for it. You might need to see a doctor or get advice at your wellness center so your sleeping habits don’t affect your lifestyle.
The aging process causes the sleep patterns of active older adults to change over time. Your sleeping patterns and your sleeping needs are two different things. A person’s sleeping needs remain constant throughout their adult life. You need to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep each and every night to ensure a healthy, focused life. Your sleeping patterns are how you sleep and those can change.
Age, lifestyle and health contribute to an older adult’s sleep problems
As you age, you may find that you get tired earlier in the day. Seniors tend to remain in lighter sleep than a deep sleep. The experts are not really sure why this happens, but some believe it might be because of light exposure. You need to go outside for natural light each day. As you age, you also produce less melatonin, a hormone that regulates your sleeping cycle.
A lifestyle that includes smoking, drinking alcohol, or a lot of caffeine will also affect your sleep. Obesity and a sedentary life, your diet, and stress can also cause sleep problems.
Often the sleep patterns of older adults are disrupted because of other existing health issues. Diabetes and prostate issues can make you feel like you are fatigued. Congestive heart failure or kidney disease can also affect sleep. The medications that you take for health conditions can cause sleeplessness.
Insomnia is increased among older adults
The National Sleep Foundation says that the prevalence of insomnia is higher among older adults. According to an earlier study, the NSF says that “44% of older persons experience one or more of the nighttime symptoms of insomnia at least a few nights per week or more. Insomnia may be chronic (lasting over one month) or acute (lasting a few days or weeks) and is often times related to an underlying cause such as a medical or psychiatric condition.”
Snoring is common for those who are overweight. It can get worse as you age and loud snoring may be a symptom of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is associated with high blood pressure and other health problems. Obstructive Sleep Apnea or OSA can be dangerous and should be treated by your doctor. Untreated, it can lead to cardiovascular disease, headaches, memory loss, and depression.
Other conditions directly related to a lack of sleep can include:
- Restless Leg Syndrome; pain that feels like your legs won’t be still
- Periodic Limb Movement Disorder; kicking your legs during sleep
- Respiratory diseases like asthma
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Changing sleep habits can ensure a better night for seniors
If you find that you’re not sleeping well very night and you don’t suspect that something more serious might be the cause, you can help yourself to get a more quality sleep by changing your habits.
- Reduce the amount of caffeine in your diet.
- Go to bed and get up in the morning at the same time every day.
- Take short naps during the day if needed.
- Exercise regularly.
- Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, and caffeine in the evening hours before bed.
- Use your bedroom for sleeping only. Take the TV out of your room.
- Go outside for some natural light.
A lack of sleep can affect your ability to concentrate, increase your risk of falling or having an accident and complicate other health conditions. If you’re too tired to function and your sleep patterns are having a negative impact on your normal activities and well-being, it would be a good idea to seek medical advice from your doctor.
-Elaine of the Westminster Village Blog Team