Insomnia in the elderly- How to Deal with it?

Elderly people need at least 7 hours of sleep every night. Lack of proper and adequate sleep might lead to health issues. They might end up being more irritable than usual, their immune system will be hampered, and they might be more prone to depression. Insomnia in the elderly is a common and a serious issue. They need appropriate rest to lead a healthy life.

Sleeplessness among Elderly:-

If an elderly person has trouble falling asleep or gets up in the middle of the night only to stay awake for the rest of the night, then it needs attention. Insomnia among seniors should not be ignored. Occasional sleeplessness eventually leads to acute insomnia, ultimately affecting the overall health.

Causes of Insomnia in the Elderly

When an elderly person reports sleep issues, it’s important to identify the underlying causes and take necessary remedial measures. Although with age, sleep habits and sleep patterns change that doesn’t necessarily mean that insomnia is a usual and accepted part of aging. Neither every senior suffers from insomnia nor it must be a part of a healthy individual’s lifestyle.

Often seniors are unaware of the impending problems that come with insomnia and they deal with their sleep struggles unaware of the consequences. That is why the caretakers or the family members must be attentive and check for signs of insomnia in elderly people.

Some reasons that may aid Insomnia in the Elderly:-

  • Irregular sleep hours
  • Poor eating habits
  • Strong medication
  • Chronic Pain
  • Several health conditions like heartburn, asthma
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Sleep apnoea
  • Stress and Depression
  • Grief
  • Sedentary lifestyle and Lack of physical activity

Certain serious medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s, joint inflammation, high BP can cause sleeplessness in seniors.

Importance of sound sleep

Sound sleep is important for everyone, irrespective of age. Seniors too need sufficient sleep to improve their memory and recharge themselves holistically in order to fend off disease. Also, good sleep keeps them energetic throughout the day and improves their ability to focus on their chores.

When sleep problems start taking a toll on your daily routine, you need to seek medical help. The experts know the correct approach to dealing with insomnia and accordingly can suggest a solution. If the situation is too serious, doctors recommend a thorough examination. Based on the individual’s medical history, the doctor determines the problem and understands how severe the condition of insomnia is. Often, they ask to maintain a sleep diary to analyze the situation better. At the initial stage of insomnia, natural approaches improve sleep cycles, for example, changing diet or diet time-table, a change of room or the furniture etc. The surroundings where elderly people are kept must be well ventilated too. If these don’t work, then subtle tranquilizers may do the trick. Doctors, however, don’t recommend over-the-counter sleeping aids as they are usually temporary. Seniors need a real solution to overcome their sleep challenges. In fact, all sleeping pills too may not agree with everyone. One must never make the mistake of consuming sleeping pills without consulting the doctor. Some pills may not work well in combination with the other medication that you could be taking.

Therapies that aid sleeplessness

Along with mild medication, relaxation therapies, breathing exercises, meditation lifestyle changes can help in improving sleep patterns to a great extent. These healing methods may not show immediate effects, but they are good for the long-term result. With regular practice and by maintaining continuity, you will finally get your much-deserved sleep.

Insomnia in the elderly needs immediate solution else they might lead to many serious conditions like cardiovascular disorders, diabetes etc. Also, lack of proper sleep might make one weak and dizzy during the day.

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