Insomnia in older adults

Insomnia in Older Adults: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep is a very important part of any healthy routine. A good night’s rest is a vital ingredient to a fit and active lifestyle. Unfortunately, those who need it most are often afflicted with insomnia. Insomnia in the senior populations is a huge problem. When older adults suffer from sleep deprivation, they become more vulnerable to a wide variety of both physical and psychological symptoms.

In order to avoid these medical problems and unnecessary periods of depression, finding the best way to treat insomnia is the option for you.

Before you can treat it, you must first recognize the symptoms. Insomnia itself refers to when you are having trouble falling or staying asleep. The average adult needs about 7 ½ to 8 hours of sleep every night. Although this value varies slightly between individuals, it remains relatively the same or only decreases slightly as you age.

When you suffer from insomnia, you are not getting this recommended amount of sleep (or are not properly experiencing your sleep cycles).

You or a loved one may be experiencing insomnia if you are suffering from one or more of these symptoms:

Having difficulties falling asleep regularly
Having difficulties staying asleep (finding yourself being awoken more than three times a night)
You are becoming an abnormally lighter sleeper
You wake up feeling tired
You see irregularities in your “internal clock”

Treatment of Insomnia for Older Adults

If you believe that you or a loved one is suffering from insomnia, the best thing to do would be to treat it. Of course, if you feel as though the symptoms are significantly interrupting daily routines, it would be best to consult with a professional to take the right path to recovery.

Generally speaking, there are four major, underlying causes of insomnia. Understanding the cause of the symptoms of insomnia is the first step to finding the correct treatment for insomnia.

Physical:

There is a wide range of diseases and other clinical conditions that both instigate insomnia and are a common problem among older adults. Some medical problems indirectly cause sleep disturbances. Although it is difficult to name them all, conditions that are associated with pain, breathing problems, bladder problems, and muscle control are all potential threats to a good night’s rest.

If you believe that an underlying medical condition is responsible for bringing about insomnia, it is important that you contact a doctor as soon as possible to discuss your options. Finding a better treatment for that condition may be a simple cure to a better night’s rest.

Pharmaceutical:

Unfortunately, some treatments may be responsible for sleep disturbances as well. Certain medications may disturb sleep. Again, consulting with a health care provider is the best way to find a solution. In some cases, medical alternatives may be available that will allow for a better night’s rest.

Other non-prescription drugs can influence sleep patterns as well. For example, smoking, alcohol, and even drinking coffee may keep users alert longer than intended.

Psychological:

Underlying mental disturbances are often a cause of insomnia. In these cases, it may be a good idea to consider seeking the help of a counselor or psychologist.

External:

There is the possibility that the sleep disturbances have nothing to do with the sufferer at all. In some cases, environmental factors may be to blame for insomnia in older adults. If their sleeping area is too brightly lit or tends to be a bit noisy, this can be a problem. Having an inactive lifestyle (or very irregular sleeping habits due to lifestyle choices) may also be to blame.

In these cases, treating insomnia can be a simple fix of rearranging a living area or setting up an ideal night routine.