Sleep is an essential part of life for people of all ages. It may be even more important for seniors, especially those battling various ailments. The proper amount of sleep is necessary to provide the needed energy to enjoy and make the most of each day. Unfortunately, insomnia is prevalent among the elderly. Not getting enough sleep can result in both mental and physical problems. It is crucial to deal with sleep issues as soon as they are detected.

Do Seniors Need Less Sleep?

The running belief that people need less sleep as they get older is simply not true. Studies show that an average adult requires a steady amount sleep from the beginning of adulthood all the way through. The exact amount of sleep needed varies from individual to individual, but is generally between 7 and 9 hours a night. The actual timetable for sleep hours may differ from that of a younger adult, as seniors tend to grow tired early in the evening and wake up very early in the morning.

Causes of Sleep Issues

Getting a Healthy Amount of Sleep

Many factors can contribute to troubled sleep. There are four basic stages of sleep. Three of these stages involve non-REM sleep. The last and most therapeutic stage is REM sleep. The amount of REM sleep we get, tends to decline as we get older. Seniors also typically have more trouble falling asleep, and remaining asleep. Some factors causing insomnia or other sleep issues are:

Sleep apnea is one of the more severe causes of troubled sleep. Sleep apnea is characterized by breathing complications during sleep. Breathing can even stop for a few minutes during an episode of sleep apnea. Sleep Apnea usually emerges in older people. It is crucial to get sleep apnea diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. If left untreated sleep apnea can manifest itself in the form of:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack

Recognizing the symptoms is the first step in dealing with the issue. Possible symptoms can include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Morning headaches
  • Constant fatigue
  • Restless sleep
  • Waking up short of breath

If you or a loved is experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your physician for an official diagnosis.

Getting a More Restful Sleep

To facilitate a more satisfying sleep caregivers can help create a comfortable and practical sleep environment. Removing the presence of loud noises, excess sunlight, and the chatter of TV or radio is a good starting point. It is also a good practice to refrain from ingesting caffeine or alcohol close to bed time. If you are dealing with a chronic sleep issue, identifying the root cause is job one. Once the cause is pinpointed, a treatment plan can be established. Physical activity is often a good option for battling sleep problems. Exercise can help promote a longer and more restful sleep. By starting with the root of the issue, caregivers can help determine what environmental and behavioural alterations are needed to achieve a deep, satisfying sleep.