why do older adults have trouble sleeping

Older adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night. It's a misconception that as we get older, our sleep needs decline. However, it can be harder for men and women ages 65+ years to stay asleep throughout the night. A
found that older people were more likely to say they wake up a lot during the night (39 percent, vs. 24 percent of 18-29 year olds, 31 percent of 30-49 year olds, and 33 percent of 50-54 year olds). On the high side, older adults were more likely to report getting a good night's sleep every night or almost every night (60 percent of those over 65, versus 38 percent of 18-29 year olds, 44 percent of 30-49 year olds, and 52 percent of 50-54 year olds), and less likely to say they woke up feeling unrefreshed. In other words, even though aging seems to make certain aspects of sleep more difficult, many older adults say they still feel good during the day.


There are certain biological changes that make sleep more difficult as we age. For example, older adults can experience a shift in circadian rhythm that causes them to become sleepy in the early evening and to wake up too early in the morning. Indeed, the 2005 NSF poll found that 64 percent of adults over 65 consider themselves a "morning person. " Medical conditions and other sleep disorders can also cause insomnia. For example, health issues such as gastrointestinal and respiratory problems can disrupt sleep. Sleep apneaвin which a person briefly but repeatedly stops breathing during sleepвcan also cause insomnia. It's important to talk to your doctor if you regularly have trouble sleeping or feel unrefreshed or fatigued during the day.


Small changes in sleep habitsвsuch as stopping napping or moving the timing of your naps, as well as cutting back on caffeineвcan help. If your insomnia is related to a medical or psychiatric condition, it's important to review this with your doctor and decide on a treatment plan. In some cases,cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, aВ prescription sleep aid, or both may be recommended. You canВ discuss these options with your doctorВ or get a referral to a doctor who specializes in sleep for more comprehensive treatment. Wear yourself out. at regular times each day, but not within 3 hours of your. Get some sun. Make an effort to get outside in the sunlight each day. It'll let your body know when itБs time to be awake, and when itБs not.


But do wear. If you still canБt sleep, your doctor may be able to help. He can see if you might have a condition that's causing you to stay awake. He can also check any you're taking to see if they're interfering with your Zzz's. He can refer you to a sleep specialist, too. What Can Cause Sleep Problems When YouБre Older? If you figure out what's keeping you up at night, you can tackle the issue and sleep better. Illnesses and conditions. You may have a medical condition that's affecting your rest. Ailments like, and can all make sleep a challenge. Treatment to help your condition may help you get some shut-. Medications. Some can keep you awake at night. Make sure your doctor knows about all the medications you take.


She may suggest you adjust when to take it or how much you take. She may even be able to change your medication to something that won't affect your slumber. Change. The older you get, the more likely you are to have some major transitions in your life. Things like illness, financial problems, or the death of a loved one, and that can make it hard to sleep. Talk to your family or meet with a counselor to find ways to manage your stress. Retirement. You might have a lot more downtime and be less active during the day. That can throw off your sleep-wake schedule. So try to keep your body and mind moving: You could volunteer, hit the gym, learn a new skill, spend time with friends and family -- the point is, stay active. б 2017 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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