Aging May Bring Insomnia: The Causes And The Ways To Restore A Normal Healthy Sleep Pattern

Date August 16, 2018

Elderly people often complain about the sleeping badly. They may have difficulties to fall asleep, or they wake up multiple times during the night, or have a sensitive, not deep enough sleep that does not allow the body and the brain to restore their energy. Sleep disturbance that comes with aging may lead to physical and mental health deterioration, that is why it is vital to discover its causes and find the right treatment.

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There are primary and secondary sleep disorders.

The primary disorders include the following:

  1. Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder: Characterized by abnormal behavior during sleep, such as talking, sleepwalking, kicking, punching, shouting, having nightmares.
  2. Obstructive sleep apnea: Breathing problems while you are sleeping;
  3. Restless legs syndrome: The sensations of itching, crawling, or restlessness in the legs are linked to a lack of iron in the brain in elderly people.

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Elderly insomnia may be the symptom of any other health issues. Here are the most common health issues that cause sleep disturbance:

  • Heart and lungs issues that prevent a person from breathing normally;
  • Frequent urination at night;
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is triggered by the food eaten before the bedtime;
  • Neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s;
  • The use of certain medications;
  • Mood swings, depression or anxiety;
  • Painful conditions, including joint inflammations.

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It’s not only medical issues: One's lifestyle also contributes to their sleep problems. The important factors that influence the quality of sleep are:

Sleeping habits

The elderly people who have poor sleeping habits promote insomnia. These habits may include excessive napping during the daytime, irregular hours of sleep, the sleep hygiene violation (no fresh air in the bedroom, bed quality mattress etc.), drinking alcohol before going to bed.

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Level of physical activity.

A sedentary lifestyle does not improve your night sleep. Regular exercises improve the overall health and emotional well-being, and it increases the quality of sleep as a result.

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How to restore healthy sleep patterns

The first step is to have a check-up in order to find out any medical conditions you might have that might cause insomnia. Eliminating the root of the problem can make you sleep peacefully all night long again. If you discover that your sleep disorder is a psychological problem, try to improve your lifestyle so that it can promote your overall health:

1. Correct your diet. National Sleep Foundation recommends avoiding caffeine and heavy, heartburn-inducing foods at night. Some food and drink that promote healthy sleep include: cottage cheese, warm milk, fruit, chamomile or ginger tea, and nuts.

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2. Be active. Regular exercising keeps your body get fit and toned, and strengthens all the systems of the organism. Even though the level of motivation for sport activities may be low, it is possible to arrange them according to a person’s interests and biorhythms. You may notice the improvements in the nighttime sleep within a short period of time.

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3. Take care of the environmental factors. Make sure there's fresh and clean air in the bedroom, that the lights are off and the bed sheet fabric is comfortable. Keep a comfortable bedroom temperature (below 24 degrees Celsius / 75 degrees Fahrenheit.)

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4. Control fluid intake before bedtime; avoid eating salty food that would make you more thirsty.

5. Avoid screen time before sleep.

6. Talk to your doctor about any medications you may use. Maybe you can get a prescription for another one that would not cause insomnia.

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7. Stick to the same sleep pattern. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, and come up with your own relaxing ritual before nighttime.

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Untreated sleep disorders may worsen the overall quality of life, make a person passive and exhausted during daytime, and promote depression. If you can’t sleep, talk to your doctor about it and find a suitable solution.

Source: BetterHealthWhileAging, NCBI

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