Tossing and turning? Older adults might be more at risk for insomnia, here's how to prevent sleepless nights.
Feeling tired all day but still can't sleep at night? You may be suffering from insomnia, a condition that can make it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Insomnia in older adults is not uncommon—about 39 percent of older adults report trouble sleeping.
Getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep every night is an important part of both physical and mental health. It helps reduce stress and boost your mood, and a good night's sleep can also improve your decision-making abilities and reduce your risk of illness. Trouble sleeping can have side effects that are more serious than just feeling tired during the day. Insomnia can lead to anxiety, irritability, memory problems, injuries, and increased risk of certain conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
Sleep Problems in Older Adults
As a person ages, their body continues to change and their health needs often reflect that. One thing that doesn't change is the need for sleep. Older adults still need the same amount of sleep as their younger counterparts.
Although the need for sleep doesn't change, the quality of sleep might be affected. According to the National Sleep Foundation, older Americans are more likely to wake up frequently during the night and changes to their circadian rhythm can cause a shift in their regular sleep schedule. Factors that may contribute to insomnia for older adults include:
- Health problems or pain
- Inactivity during the day
- Menopause and post-menopause for women
- Sleep disorders such as restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea
Everyone experiences a sleepless night now and then but if you have trouble sleeping at least three days a week, you should speak to your doctor to determine if there's something else going on.
Getting A Good Night's Sleep
The good news is that sleep problems can be treated—insomnia does not have to be a chronic issue. There are many lifestyle steps you can take to get more shuteye and improve your quality of sleep:
- Make sure your bedroom is dark, cool, and quiet
- Turn off TV and electronic devices at least an hour before bed
- Don't nap during the day, or limit your naps to between fifteen and forty-five minutes
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and getting up close to the same time every day
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening
- Get some exercise during the day
When left untreated, insomnia in older adults can have significant impacts on health. If your insomnia persists, speak to your doctor or Rite Aid Pharmacist about trying over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids.
By Joelle Klein
Healthfinder.gov, Get Enough Sleep
National Institutes of Health (NIH), How is the body is affected by sleep deprivation?
National Sleep Foundation, Insomnia and Older Adults
Medline Plus, Aging changes in sleep
Johns Hopkins Medicine, Insomnia: What You Need to Know as You Age
National Institute on Aging, A Good Night's Sleep
HelpGuide.Org, Sleep Tips for Older Adults