Sleep is vitally important. Sleep underscores our health and vitality, and without it we’re left exhausted and worn down. Seniors can be more affected by insomnia than other groups, so it’s important to know how to get a good night sleep and what can be done about elderly insomnia.
It’s a common myth that seniors need less sleep as they age. In reality, we still need 7 to 9 hours every day. What does change is the timing of our sleep cycles. Older adults tend to get tired earlier in the day and wake up earlier as a result.
What Causes Insomnia
The National Institute of Health has reported that almost half of all people over age 60 experience some insomnia. Here are some of the main causes of sleeplessness:
- Medication side effects
- Chronic pain from arthritis and osteoporosis
- Sleep-related breathing disorders, like snoring and sleep apnea
- Restless leg syndrome, which causes unpleasant sensations of itching and crawling
Working with your doctor is the best way to address elderly insomnia. Your doctor will review your sleep habits and may ask you to keep a sleep diary to track your sleep and wake times. Your doctor may also order a sleep study where you stay overnight in a clinic while medical staff measure your vital signs.
Your doctor will work with you to develop a healthy sleep plan, which may include adjusting your medication to help solve your sleep issues.
Some effective insomnia treatments include cognitive behavior therapy, mindfulness meditation, and exercise. There are also some supplements, like chamomile and melatonin, which can be effective in treating insomnia, although their long-term effects aren’t known. Finally, your doctor may prescribe a medication to address your sleeplessness, like Ramelteon or Trazodone.
It’s important for seniors to avoid relying on over-the-counter sleep aids. Studies have found these medications can impact brain function and increase risk of cognitive decline.
So far we’ve covered the main causes and treatments of insomnia in adults. As always, consult with your doctor to find out what’s causing you to lose sleep and experience restless nights.
Did you know that sleeplessness can lead to impaired cognitive function and is a known cause of falls? If you or a loved one is experiencing elder insomnia turn to EasyCall. EasyCall can provide the peace of mind that help is nearby in the event of an emergency. Learn more today.