An occasional restless night is a common occurrence that everyone will experience at least once or twice. However, if you or your loved one is constantly having issues staying or falling asleep, you might be suffering from a sleep disorder. In fact, almost half of older adults will experience some symptoms of insomnia.
Is It Normal to Have Changing Sleep Cycles?
It is normal that your circadian rhythms change as you grow older. The general trend seems to be that an older adult’s internal clock is somewhat earlier than younger individuals. This means that they get sleepy earlier and tend to wake up earlier in the morning. However, this can cause them to nap more during the day, leading them to have a harder time falling asleep.
On top of this, older adults also tend to sleep for shorter periods and are light sleepers. While these are a normal part of aging, they can also be exacerbated by other lifestyle habits, medications, or disorders.
Causes of Insomnia
There are many causes of insomnia in older adults, which can include:
- Alcohol or caffeine
- Smoking, when done before bed
- Mental illnesses, like anxiety and depression
- Health conditions, like chronic pain, Alzheimer’s, dementia, respiratory diseases, or diabetes
- Sleep disorders, like restless legs syndrome, apnea.
How to Prevent Insomnia in Old Adults
Lifestyle changes can help to prevent insomnia as well. Here’s a list.
Some things you should do include:
- Practice good sleep hygiene like establishing a sleep schedule
- Exercise regularly
- Sleep in a quiet, cool, dark room, setting the thermostat around 60 to 67 Fahrenheit
- If you cannot fall asleep even after 20 minutes, get up, and do another relaxing activity
Some habits that you should avoid:
- Do not drink alcohol or caffeine around three hours before bed
- Avoid eating spicy food or heavy meals before bed
- Do not drink too many liquids before bed to avoid waking up to go to the toilet
- Try to avoid napping during the day
- Do not use bright lights or mobile devices 30 minutes before bedtime
Treating Insomnia in Older Adults
If you think that you are suffering from insomnia, it is important that you first consult your doctor or primary healthcare provider for their recommendations. While our article discusses most of the common lifestyle changes that help the majority of people, it is still better to get personalized, professional advice.
If you find yourself struggling, there are over-the-counter options such as Tylenol, Unison, and Tylenol are generally available at most pharmacies and can help with short-term sleep issues. Other supplements like melatonin can also help.
If you or your loved one is struggling to take care of yourself, it might be time to consider a placement in a senior living community. Not only will you get round-the-clock care, but you will also have unbridled access to exclusive senior living programs which feature many exciting and fun activities every single day.
This is because we firmly believe that every individual deserves to lead a life that is filled with joy and purpose. To find more information about our different housing options and living programs, contact us today.