Causes of sleep problems
As people age, they start to experience changes in their sleeping patterns. These changes include feeling sleepy earlier, experiencing less deep sleep, and waking up earlier. However, most of these challenges are not a normal part of ageing. Just like when you were younger, you need enough quality sleep when you get older. Let us look at some of the common causes and solutions to sleep problems among the seniors.
Sleep Problem Due to a Medical Issue
Though most seniors tend to suffer from primary sleep disorders, some of them might encounter secondary sleep disorders. This means that they are caused by an underlying medical condition. The common conditions that might cause sleep disorders among adults include:
- Heart and lung conditions that cause breathing problems. This might as well lead to heart failure and complicated chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Painful conditions such as osteoarthritis
- Mood problems like anxiety and depression
- Medical side effects
- Urinary issues that make individuals urinate a lot at night. An overactive bladder or enlarged prostate usually cause this
- Neurodegenerative complications like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s
If your loved one is encountering sleeping difficulties, it is vital to confirm that any of the complications mentioned above does not cause it.
Sleeping Disorders Such as Sleep Apnea, and Snoring
Sleep-related breathing disorders, also known as SRBD, can also be referred to as Sleep-disordered breathing. It is an overall term that is related to how individuals breathe while sleeping. However, sleep apnea is the most serious and should be diagnosed in time. This is because it is usually related to other health conditions. It makes individuals pause in their breathing while they sleep. Sleep Obstructive Apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea.
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)
This condition makes the aged feel some sensation itching, restlessness, crawling as they try to fall asleep. Though the symptoms are not painful, they cause discomfort and can keep someone from falling asleep. The actual underlying cause of this problem is not clear; it is thought to be caused by the level of iron in the blood and dopamine in the brain. What is known is that it is not caused by neurodegeneration.
Insomnia is what happens when you have difficulty falling asleep or even staying asleep at night. Though this problem is common among middle-aged individuals, it is also common among seniors. It is a problem that becomes more serious with ageing. Insomnia is believed to be caused by fatigue, anxiety, depression, poor quality of life, long-term health conditions, and cognitive decline.
Finding Underlying Problems of Insomnia
Very treatable conditions cause most cases of insomnia. It is possible to tailor the right solution once you have identified that primary cause of your case. Some of the things you can do to improve your condition include:
- Giving up poor sleep habits and getting the right sleeping environment
- Treating pain and other medical conditions causing your insomnia
- Seeking medication on time
- Engaging in regular physical exercise
- Improving your social life by engaging with your peers
- Getting enough sunlight
Improve Sleep Habits
It possible to improve the quality of your sleep by addressing issues related to emotional wellbeing, adjusting your sleep environment, and giving up unhealthy daytime habits. Since people are different, you will have to experiment with each change to see what works best for you.
You can boost the levels of your melatonin naturally. Things such as artificial light can inhibit the production of melatonin, hence depriving you of quality sleep. Melatonin is a hormone produced by brain cells to make you feel sleepy. Try to use low wattage bulbs and stay away from the TV, computer, and phone at least one hour before going to bed.
You need to make sure that your room is dark, cool, and quiet and that your bed is comfortable enough. This is because humans tend to become more sensitive to noise as they age. The same way, heat and light can cause severe sleep problems. If you like, you can use a sleep mask and earplugs to keep you isolated from the surrounding disruptions while you try to have quality sleep.
Have a Regular Bedtime Routine
t is essential to have a consistent bed schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time, even on weekends. It will help your brain adjust so that you can fall asleep faster. If it is snoring that is stopping you from falling asleep, try things like a white-noise machine, earplugs, or separate rooms. Always make sure you go to bed earlier, especially whenever you feel like getting some sleep at night.
Soothing bedtime rituals such as bathing before bed, practising a relaxation technique, playing music, deep breathing, can help you fall asleep fast when you go to bed. You must not go near sleeping aids such as sleeping pills because they have side effects, and are not suitable for long-term use. You should never use sleeping pills to address insomnia because it might make it worse in the long run. If possible, try to combine sex and sleep. With sex and physical intimacy such as cuddling, you can get some satisfying quality sleep.
If your insomnia does not go away, even after trying the techniques mentioned above, then you might have to seek medical attention. Your situation will be professionally evaluated, and the best treatment method will be tailored for you. Note that while ageing might cause some sleeping difficulty, these conditions can always be improved. However, you need to find the underlying cause on time so that you are assisted before it gets severe and hard to curb. When you start to encounter insomnia, try to adjust your lifestyle and seek medical attention if you do not experience any improvement.
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