Insomnia is one of the leading complaints among older adults. Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, waking during the night, and waking up early in the morning and being unable to go back to sleep are all indications of insomnia. While everyone, regardless of age, needs to get adequate sleep, it can be more difficult for seniors to get the seven to nine hours of sleep necessary for optimal health. This can be due to a variety of factors. Underlying biological changes have a big impact on quality and quantity of sleep: as people age, the amount of time they spend in deep sleep relative to lighter sleep stages changes. Additionally, alterations in circadian rhythm (also known as the “biological clock”) often cause people to become sleepy earlier in the evening and wake earlier in the morning.
As well as the changes in physiology that accompany age, seniors suffer at higher rates from many illnesses and ailments that can cause or exacerbate insomnia. Breathing problems are often responsible for difficulty falling asleep, and for waking up in the middle of the night. Sleep apnea (the most common cause of snoring), asthma, or diseases like emphysema can all cause sleep troubles. Chronic pain due to diseases like arthritis can also keep sufferers up at night. Illnesses like dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s often lead to insomnia, as do heart disease, kidney disease, and gastrointestinal problems, such as acid reflux.
Insomnia can often make the symptoms of illness worse. It can also interfere with everyday activities. People who suffer from poor sleep are more likely to experience car accidents, falls, and other mishaps. Poor sleep can also compromise memory and make communication more difficult. For people suffering from insomnia, everyday tasks like meal preparation, cleaning, and self-care can become difficult, as exhaustion makes even the simplest of tasks harder. For these reasons, it’s important to take insomnia seriously, and treat it proactively.
Edison Home Health Care is happy to advise and assist you or any loved one who seek appropriate care for sleeping problems. Give us a call at 888-311-1142, or fill out a contact form and we will respond shortly.