Why do older adults struggle to sleep?
Many older adults accept problems with their sleep as an inevitable part of aging. But what if sleep problems aren’t a natural part of getting older?
According to recent research, approximately 50 percent of older adults report difficulty sleeping. But sleep problems in older adults are less a result of aging itself and more related to other conditions that may accompany aging.
Respiratory disorders, changes in circadian sleep cycles, medical and psychiatric illnesses, and increased medicine use all can contribute to poor quality sleep in this growing population.
Poor sleep doesn’t only mean that half of all older adults are a little more tired during the day, though. There are more serious consequences related to overall health and wellbeing. Sleep disturbances have been shown to contribute to decreased quality of life, more symptoms of depression and anxiety, slower reaction times, memory problems, issues with balance and vision increasing risk of falls, and even death.
If you’re an older adult, good quality sleep is within reach.
It might mean talking with your doctor about your medications, going to bed and waking up earlier because your body’s circadian sleep cycles have shifted, or getting treatment for other conditions that are interfering with your sleep.
Some sleep disorders, such as insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea, are more common in the elderly. But with diagnosis and specialty care, these issues can also be treated and even prevented.