As we age, insomnia is more likely to become an issue. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 67% of older adults suffer from symptoms of insomnia, including daytime sleepiness, and waking up numerous times during the night. Here are some of the things that may contribute to an increase in insomnia amongst older people:
1. Circadian Rhythm: Older adults are more likely to experience insomnia because as we age our circadian rhythms naturally change, becoming less consistent. Often times they can’t resist the urge to fall asleep earlier or sleep later.
2. Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): The overpowering urge to move your legs can make it can difficult for anyone to fall and stay asleep. For the nearly 10-35% of adults of over the age of 65, RLS is a constant problem.
3. Menopause: The effects of menopause such as hot flashes and mood swings are bound to cause abnormal sleeping patterns, contributing to the reason why women are twice as likely to battle insomnia compared to men.
4. Medical Conditions: Medical conditions that may develop as we age, such as arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, could trigger insomnia.
5. Mental Health Conditions: Stress can adversely affect sleep. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than 50% of insomnia cases are due to depression, anxiety or psychological stress.
6. Medication: Sleep patterns can be affected by both over-the-counter, and prescription medications. Medications that treat colds and allergies, joint pain, hypertension, depression, neurological disorders and heart disease, may be the source of insomnia.
7. General Aging: We can’t fight the aging process. Older adults naturally wake up 3-4 times per night due to frequent bathroom trips, less time spent in deep sleep, and/or a chronic illness that causes pain, discomfort or anxiety.
Symptoms of insomnia can include trouble falling asleep, struggling to stay asleep, waking up too early and having poor sleep quality overall. These issues may lead fatigue, moodiness, headaches, poor memory, stomach aches and a lack of concentration.
Giving your body the proper amount of sleep is vital to our overall well-being. You are bound to face struggles at times, but do not give up on getting the 7-9 hours of sleep recommended every night. If you find yourself in a losing battle with sleep, consult with your physician for options that will work for you!