Sleep Disorders in Senior Citizens

Jan 7th, 2010 | By | Category: Lifestyle, Health & Fitness

Everyone experiences difficulty falling to sleep or staying asleep at times in their lives.  No one is exempt.  However, if it lasts longer than two to three weeks, experts suggest insomnia may be occurring.  Insomnia is just that–difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.

The causes are many and varied:

  • too much caffeine or alcohol too late in the day
  • smoking
  • medications
  • life stress
  • depression or other emotional dis-ease
  • snoring partner
  • strange bed
  • new sleeping partner
  • genetics   (The journal Sleep reported that victims of insomnia are more likely than people who sleep well to have a close relative who experiences insomnia.)
  • age (Seniors report more insomnia than do younger adults)

Symptoms, according to include the following:

  • feel irritable or sleepy during the day?
  • have difficulty staying awake when sitting still, watching television or reading?
  • fall asleep or feel very tired while driving?
  • have difficulty concentrating?
  • often get told by others that you look tired?
  • react slowly?
  • have emotional outbursts?
  • feel like taking a nap almost every day?
  • require caffeinated beverages to keep yourself going?

Most important to most of us is, what can be done about it?  There are options available, depending upon what you are most comfortable with.  Foremost is the need to try to identify what may be causing your sleep deprivation.  If cause can be isolated, the cure is obviously eliminating or addressing the cause.  If, for example, you are sleep deprived because you drink a cup of coffee at night, or have a caffeine soft drink, or eat a Snickers bar, you need to stop doing that.  Tea, iced or hot, needs to be caffeine-free after 1:00  pm.

Or if you suffer insomnia because you are stressed about something in your life, addressing the stress is paramount in dealing with insomnia.  Eliminating something you can put your hands on is much easier than the non-tangible causes however.  Sometimes the intangible or just plain not knowing what causes sleeplessness is so frustrating that the not-knowing may contribut to sleep deprivation.  There are options for those of you in that category also.]

Learning relaxation techniques, including Yoga and Cognitive Therapy, is high on the list of cures for insomnia.  Focusing on better physical and emotional health through such techniques may be a positive side benefit also.  The Internet is full of relaxation self-help learning tools. 

We also recommend daily exercise for poor sleepers.  Exercise has been shown to positively contribute to a lot of health issues, including insomnia.  Using your body during the day helps your muscles need some rest, and you sleep better as a result.

If your partner snores, and if you want to sleep in the same room, we recommend ear plugs.  They are available on the Internet for a few dollars, and are so good that they occlude 90% of sound.  Do a search query for ear plugs and a lot of options pop up. 

Many of us Seniors love that afternoon nap; but do we really need it or is it just a habit?  If you can’t sleep, try foregoing that nap and see what happens.  It’s worth a try.

Medications are at the bottom of our list of recommendations.  However, if nothing else works for you, try the over-the-counter type before you do the heavy-duty prescription medications for sleep.  And don’t expect to sleep more than you need; 8-9 hours is considered a good night’s sleep for most seniors.

Detailed information is available on Helpguide for addressing possible solutions, including changing the bedroom environment and lifestyle issues that may be contributing to your lack of sleep.

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  1. […] Read more… Posted in senior health | Tagged aging-is-a-gift, cancer, featured-video, fitness, health, internet, senior, senior-finances, senior-travel, seniors, social, social-security, travel Cancel Reply […]

  2. I am a senior citizen having sleep disorder. around 2 am in the night I get up to pee. after that I can not go back to sleep. Mind keeps filled with random thoughts. By the time I can go back to sleep again, it is time to get up and attend to time-dependent work. I feel sleepy in the afternoon but have to miss it if I have to go out. This causes grouchiness and I am irritable in the evening hours. Any suggestions?

  3. Vyasamoorthy: All of this is offered with the caveat that we are not medical doctors, and this is NOT medical advice; you need to consult your physician for medical assistance. We suggest you start with being sure you aren’t having caffeine after lunch (includes coffee, tea, chocolate & soft drinks); then be sure you’re getting good aerobic exercise daily (get your heart beat up for 20-30 minutes IF YOUR PHYSICIAN APPROVES); if you drink alcoholic beverages, limit your intake to a glass of wine in the evening; drink your 8 glasss of daily water before 3-4 pm, so you can pee most of it out and reduce the need to pee at 2 am; when i wake up at 2am and think i’m not going back to sleep anytime soon, I get up and drink a cup of Sleepytime Tea, and it generally helps me get back to sleep (it’s a chamomile blend that promotes sleep); if after these homeopathic basics, you are still having trouble getting back to sleep, you probably need to consult your physician and request a referral to a sleep disorder clinic. They will be able to diagnose possible medical issues that may be contributing to the problem. Good luck!… and thanks for reading SCJ!

  4. The word Insomnia originated from the Latin word Insomis meaning sleepless. To put it in a better way it is a condition where one is unable to obtain sufficient sleep. For me Insomnia meant feeling stressed, lost, sad and feeling worthless,trouble concentrating,irritability, increased risk of falls and accidents, and lower productivity..Better Quality Sleep benefits to our mood, memory and concentration.

  5. […] How to Beat Insomnia « Kitsune’s ThoughtsInsomnia Remedy – The Power of Feng Shui to Beat Insomnia | Insomnia Natural RemedyBeat Insomnia with 14 Proven TechniquesINSOMNIA – A SLEEP TIME PHENOMENON! | Insomnia Are You Causing It By Taking The Wrong Herbs?PLR Articles » Alternative Health PLR Sleep Disorders in Senior Citizens – Senior Citizen Journal […]

  6. […] Sleep issues become more common as we age.  Interrupted or lack of sleep plays havoc with a healthy lifestyle.  Getting a good night’s rest, and napping during the day for those who require it, is as important as good nutrition and exercising.  Restful time in the course of 24 hours is an essential part of good living. […]

  7. […] Senior Citizen Journal: Learn how sleep disorders among senior citizens may increase the rate of falling accidents. […]

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