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Insomnia: What You Need to Know as You Age

As we age, we often experience normal changes in our sleeping patterns. Older adults tend to get sleepy earlier in the evening and sleep less deeply than when they were younger. However, symptoms of insomnia, such as disturbed sleep and waking up tired, are not a normal part of aging. Insomnia has become one of the most common sleep disorders in seniors. Up to 48% of older adults are experiencing insomnia.

Causes of Insomnia in Elderly Adults

Poor sleep habits. Irregular sleep hours, consumption of alcohol before bedtime, and falling asleep with the TV on are all included.

Medical conditions. A frequent need to urinate, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, heartburn, and Alzheimer’s disease can affect your sleep.

Menopause and post-menopause. During menopause, hot flashes and night sweats can interrupt sleep, and these problems might get worse after menopause.

Lack of exercise. Being too sedentary during the day may make you feel less sleepy during the night.

Stress. Significant life changes like retirement, the death of a loved one, or moving from a family home can cause stress.

Lack of social engagement. Social activities, family companions, and work can prepare your body for a good night’s sleep.

Sleep disorders. Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) and Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders (SRBD) occur more frequently in older adults.

Dos and Don’ts to Prevent Insomnia in Seniors:

Do

Establish a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
Be physically active each day, but no later than four hours before going to bed.
Sleep in a dark, quiet, cool room (between 60- and 67-degrees Fahrenheit).
Take a warm bath or practice meditation before bed.
Get up and do relaxing activities like listening to calming music if you can’t fall asleep after 30 minutes,

Don’t

Consume caffeine or alcohol three hours before bed.
Eat heavy meals, especially cold and spicy food before bed.
Nap during the day.
Use bright lights, such as TV or cell phone, before bedtime.

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