Regardless of how old you are, you’d know that getting enough sleep is crucial to maintaining good health. This healthy habit is vital for senior citizens because of their deteriorating immune systems.
Unfortunately, due to several factors like an unhealthy lifestyle, our elderly loved ones can also suffer from sleep issues, such as difficulty falling asleep, shorter deep sleep, and earlier awakening. Caffeine, medications, and alcohol may also worsen insomnia. Healthcare providers may need to evaluate primary sleep disorders with formal studies and may indicate the need for therapy with a benzodiazepine receptor agonist.
This article is your guide to understanding sleep problems in your elderly loved ones to help you understand their physical health better.
What Are Common Symptoms of Sleep Issues?
Older adults may suffer from sleeping issues if they experience difficulty settling down and staying asleep, wake up earlier than expected, and feel tired during the day. These symptoms can negatively impact their sleeping schedule.
What Interferes with Their Sleeping Habits?
The elderly are more prone to various sleeping and wakefulness issues because of their short or long-term conditions, medications, mental health disorders, primary sleep disorders, social changes, and poor sleep routines. These problems can escalate into more complicated issues when another older adult, a family member, or a medical professional gives them the wrong treatments.
What Are the Consequences of Chronic Sleep Problems?
Long-term sleep deprivation can have severe and far-reaching effects. Uninterrupted sleep or long-term use of sedatives can increase the risk of falls and injuries. Sleep-related breathing issues can also negatively affect the brain, heart, and lungs.
Research shows that people with sleep apnea are more likely to develop hypertension. Moreover, sleep-deprived individuals with dementia usually increase the need for residential care.
How Does a Normal Sleep Work?
The body regulates sleep by the amount of required rest and circadian rhythms. A healthy circadian rhythm promotes a daily cycle of nighttime sleep and daytime alertness. Normal sleep progresses through stages during each sleep period, including Rapid-Eye Movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep.
On the other hand, sleep deprivation causes increased sleepiness and can impair normal cognitive function.
What’s the Association between Sleep and Aging?
Generally, older people get less sleep than younger people because of more interruptions and less deep sleep. However, their bodies usually preserve their REM sleep. You should let a medical professional perform an evaluation immediately if your elderly loved one reports excessive sleepiness or disrupted sleep.
What Are Some Common Age-Associated Sleep Changes?
Older people usually have changes in their circadian rhythm when they go to bed and wake up earlier. Getting up in the morning can be annoying for some because it can lead to sleep deprivation and excessive sleepiness during the day. Daytime napping can also worsen this issue because it reduces the drive to sleep at the usual bedtime and decrease the nighttime sleep duration.
What Contributes to Sleep Problems in the Elderly?
Senior citizens usually experience sleep issues because of their medications, alcohol, primary sleep disorders, pain, and poor sleeping habits.
How to Evaluate Sleep Problems in the Elderly
Healthcare providers can evaluate sleep issues in the elderly by considering factors like poor sleep habits, medical or psychiatric history, the type of complaint, environmental factors, primary sleep disorders, and the underlying effects of substances.
How to Correct Sleeping Problems
Healthcare professionals can offer different treatments for sleep issues, such as correcting sleep-wake timing and increasing the patient’s sleep time. They should also thoroughly investigate other problems like sleep habits, medical illnesses, medications, and psychiatric disorders.
Because of their vulnerable conditions, older adults are more likely to suffer from sleep issues. You can ensure they get a better night’s sleep by letting your healthcare professional evaluate them and provide the right treatments.
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