Insomnia can affect anyone of any age, but research shows that it is a particularly common problem in older adults. About 50% of adults aged 60 and older experience poor sleep. Our bodies are constantly changing as the years go by, and our sleep is often an unfortunate victim of growing up. There seem to be several explanations for this.
The natural processes that take place as you age, coupled with common external factors, are a recipe for deteriorating sleep quality, and it’s important to understand what’s happening so you can move forward and try to put a stop to poor sleep. to take.
Sleep plays a key role in maintaining our mental and physical health. Ordinary sleep deprivation increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, depression, and even dementia. Continue below for help getting you back to a healthy sleep schedule and to learn more about the effects of aging on sleep.
How sleep patterns change as we age
External factors aside, it is common for older adults to experience a change in sleep patterns due to sleep disturbances circadian rhythm. The area of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which is responsible for regulating our body’s circadian rhythm, known as our internal clock, weakens as we age. As a result, it disrupts your usual rhythms, altering your sleep and hunger cycles.
Aging also appears to affect the body’s production of key sleep-inducing hormones. In old age, the body produces less melatonin, a hormone affected by darkness that is released around bedtime and promotes feelings of sleepiness.
Research shows that seniors spend more time in lighter stages of sleep and less time in REM or deep sleep, causing them to wake up more often.
5 ways to sleep better
- Set up your bedroom for a good night’s sleep: Your bedroom should be a distraction-free zone that limits sleep disturbance and promotes total comfort. Have a mattress that is comfortable and accommodating to your specific needs, whether it helps reduce back pain, cool hot sleepers or offers a gentle pressure relief for those who struggle with joint pain. It should also be dark and cool. Cover windows with curtains and limit the light in your bedroom as much as possible.
- Practice good sleep hygiene: Help maintain your circadian rhythm and promote sleepiness by following a nighttime routine. Go to bed at a fixed time every night. Have a bedtime routine that includes a relaxing activity, such as reading, taking a bath, or stretching. Stay off tech devices for an hour and a half before going to bed, and avoid substances like alcohol or tobacco that can disrupt your sleep.
- Excercise: Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can help promote better sleep in older adults, among other benefits such as improved mental health, disease prevention and increased social engagement.
- Participate in local activities or clubs: Anxiety is a huge detriment to sleep. If you feel lonely and think that low social interaction leads to poor sleep quality and general mental health, find a local group or club that does activities you enjoy. According to Harvard, spending time with others can help improve well-being, reduce the risk of depression and even extend longevity.
- Adopt a pet: If medical conditions or other limitations keep you from getting as much exercise as you’d like, adopting a pet to keep you company indoors can help reduce loneliness. Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression, feel less anxious, increase serotonin and dopamine, and even make 30% fewer visits to the doctor than those without.
Common sleep disorders in older adults
Aging in itself is not the cause of poor sleep. Other factors, such as health problems and daily habits, can contribute to the development of sleep disorders. Let’s see.
Physical and mental health issues also play an important role in an aging adult’s sleep quality. A study by the Sleep Foundation found that nearly a quarter of adults ages 65 to 84 had four or more health problems and were getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night.
Pain-producing conditions such as arthritis and fibromyalgia cause discomfort and sleep disturbances in older adults, in addition to other medical problems such as sleep apnea, diabetes, stress, anxiety, heart disease and depression. For those diagnosed with a combination of these conditions, a good night’s sleep can be difficult to achieve.
Nearly 9 in 10 adults age 65 or older report taking prescription medications, and not all medications are sleep friendly. Certain prescriptions such as amphetamines, antidepressants, and beta-blockers or high blood pressure medications can impair your quality of rest, while antihistamines and antipsychotics can cause daytime sleepiness.
With older age comes a slower routine and daily habits that play a role in reducing quality rest. Daytime naps, spending less time outside, and little exposure to natural light can disrupt your circadian rhythm. People who feel lonely due to little social interaction may also feel more anxiety and stress, which plays a role in poor sleep.
Try these for more help to sleep better six natural sleep aids And ways to relieve bedtime anxiety.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider if you have any questions about a medical condition or health goals.