Insomnia is a common problem among many seniors and it’s not an issue to be taken with levity, because without proper rest and sleep, it’s easy for us to suffer from a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating, and even an increased risk of health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
Fortunately, there are proven ways to deal with insomnia in our golden years. Through lifestyle modifications, relaxation techniques, and medication, elderly people can get the restful sleep they need to stay healthy and enjoy life.
In this article, we will discuss some proven ways to help the elderly deal with insomnia, so that they can get the quality sleep they need.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that causes people to have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or both. This condition can cause short-term and long-term health problems, like being unable to focus, feeling sad, and having a higher risk of heart disease and other long-term illnesses.
Causes of insomnia in the elderly
Aging is the most common cause of insomnia. As people age, they experience changes in the functioning of the body and mind that can lead to a lack of sleep. These changes include an increased need for sleep, a change in the sleep-wake cycle, restless legs syndrome, sleep apnea, and others. All of these can lead to sleep disorders like insomnia.
Alterations in the body brought about by aging can also make insomnia worse or more difficult to treat. After age 50, the muscles begin to shrink, which makes it more difficult to move the body into a comfortable position for sleep. This can cause pain, stiffness, and joint problems, which can lead to a lack of sleep.
Diminished hearing and vision. As people age, their senses of hearing and vision begin to weaken. This can make it difficult to stay asleep because your brain works harder just to process sound which can keep you awake.
Decline in daily physical activity. As people age, they often become less active and spend less time moving. A lack of physical activity can lead to weight gain, which can make it harder to sleep comfortably.
Declining health. As people age, they are more likely to face health issues, and some of the medications taken for these ailments can interfere with sleep.
Lifestyle modifications to help with insomnia
Making some adjustments to certain habits can go a long way in handling insomnia. Some of these are listed below.
- Limit your caffeine intake to avoid remaining awake at night.
- Create a sleep-friendly environment such as a cool, quiet, and dark room to encourage you to sleep.
- Exercise daily. Lack of physical activities can result in weight gain which affects sleep patterns.
- Eliminate distractions such as phones, television, and other electronics.
- Reduce your alcohol intake as it can cause you to cycle through sleep stages more quickly.
- Check your medications to see if they are contributing to insomnia.
- Practice relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation to calm you down.
- Try not to nap during the day as this can affect your sleep pattern at night.
- Take advantage of bedtime rituals, such as reading in bed, to help you relax and fall asleep easier.
- Cut down on heavy meals at night.
Some natural remedies like chamomile tea, lavender oil, lemon balm tea, and valerian roots have been known to help people fall asleep easier. But be sure to discuss these natural remedies with your doctor to see if they are right for you before you use them.
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