Health and Wellness

Health and Wellness

There are many contributing factors for not getting enough sleep
According to the National Institute on Aging, “older adults need the same amount of sleep as young adults—7 to 9 hours each night. But seniors tend to go to sleep earlier and wake earlier than when they were younger.” In fact, when people age, they tend to have more difficulty in falling asleep and more importantly, staying asleep; daytime naps may be more common but making it harder to fall asleep at night.

We are unaware of what actually occurs in our own sleep cycle. There are two kinds of sleep: REM (rapid eye movement) sleep when we tend to dream, and non-REM sleep, when we are in our deepest sleep. Unfortunately as we age, we spend less time in this deep sleep.

There are many contributing factors for not getting enough sleep – being in pain or discomfort, feeling ill, daytime napping and taking certain medications. When we don’t get enough sleep, we can experience daytime sleepiness, irritability, depression, memory loss, hence, becoming more prone to accidents of falls.

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder I adults age 60 and older. Individuals who suffer from insomnia, have difficulty falling sleep and staying asleep. It can last for das, months or even ears. Feeling anxious or worried or the effects of certain medications can cause insomnia. People who suffer from insomnia may experience excessive daytime sleepiness, inability to concentrate and increased risk for accidents and illness.

Behavioral therapies and prescription medications are available to treat insomnia and it is best to speak with a physician to determine which treatment is best for you.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is another serious sleep disorder and people who have sleep apnea may not even know it. Most likely , their partner may notice some of the symptoms associated with sleep apnea- short pauses in breathing while sleeping, loud snoring or inconsistent snoring with pauses during the night. If OSA is not treated, it can lead to other problems including high blood pressure, stroke, memory loss, heart disease, hearing loss, depression, etc. Individuals with 20 or more episodes of apnea (pauses in breathing) per sleep hour, have a higher risk of death from abnormal heart rhythms, strokes and heart attacks. OSA is also associated with obesity, a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. People with sleep apnea may feel more tired during the day – can also be at risk for injury and more prone to falling sleep during daily activities.

A board-certified sleep physician has the training expertise is diagnosing and treating sleep apnea. Your physician may recommend testing to confirm if sleep apnea is preset. A overnight sleep study in a sleep center is a comprehensive study that records many different response rom the patient allowing for diagnoses. A home sleep test is appropriate for patients in a variety of scenarios  – homebound or where a suspicion of complex sleep disorders are not suspected.

The most common treatment for OSA is wearing a device called a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) at night. There are no side effects with wearing a CPAP. Other treatments include; oral appliance therapy, weight management, positions therapy, lifestyle changes and possible surgery.

In general, being older doesn’t mean that we have to feel tired all the time. Here are some things that you can do to help ensure a good night’s sleep:  Follow a regular sleep schedule and develop a bedtime routine.  Keep your room dark and at a comfortable temperature. Avoid large meals before bedtime.  Limit your caffeine intake. Avoid alcohol. It will not help you sleep. In fact, it causes disruption in your sleep patterns.


Mia Bersani, Advantage Sleep Centers

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