For many older adults, sleep problems rank high on their list of concerns; people who once slept soundly through the night may find that they suffer from insomnia as they age. Difficulties falling and staying asleep can be caused by an underlying medical condition, by medications, or by natural changes in the sleep cycle. The sleep deprivation that often results from insomnia can cause or exacerbate other problems, such as depression, forgetfulness, and the tendency to fall. Older adults can find strategies to improve sleep in order to maintain alertness during the day.
One of the leading symptoms of insomnia for older adults is waking early in the morning and being unable to go back to sleep. This can be due to a number of factors. Changes in circadian rhythm, the “biological clock” that governs patterns of sleeping and waking, often shift as people age, causing them to become sleepier earlier in the evening, and alert earlier in the morning. For many people, it can be extremely difficult to change their sleeping habits. Someone who is used to a later bedtime may still wake early in the morning and be unable to go back to sleep, leading to a lack of sleep that can compromise quality of life. Many older people also wake during the night or early in the morning to use the bathroom, and may be unable to go back to sleep afterwards.
For people struggling with insomnia, lifestyle changes can be helpful in managing symptoms. Taking fewer naps during the day, getting regular exercise, and spending time outdoors can all be beneficial in regulating circadian rhythm and improving sleep. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine, especially later in the day, and refraining from drinking excessive liquid in the evening, can also be helpful. Additionally, addressing medical conditions and adjusting medications can be an important aspect of improving sleep.
Edison Home Health Care is happy to advise and assist you or any loved one who seek appropriate care for general assistance. Give us a call at 888-311-1142, or fill out a contact form and we will respond shortly.