As we age, there are a number of physical changes that our bodies undergo. Changes in sleep patterns, for example, are a normal part of the aging process. Whether it is trouble falling or staying asleep or tiredness throughout the day, there are a handful of ways aging adults can effectively treat common sleep disorders.
One of the most common sleep disruptors in aging adults is snoring. It is most commonly associated with people who are overweight. And snoring can not only affect the snorer, it can affect the non-snoring partner. Snoring is sometimes a sign of sleep apnea, which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, memory loss and depression.
Suggestion: All seniors who experience disruptive snoring should discuss it with a doctor. Sometimes a doctor may require the patient to undergo a sleep test to find out if serious sleep apnea is to blame. Doctors may also suggest losing weight, avoiding alcohol before bedtime, and may also suggest that patients do not sleep on their backs, avoid sleep deprivation and treat nasal congestion, according to the medical experts from the Mayo Clinic. Additionally, home remedies such as raising the head of the bed by four inches, sleeping on your side or using nasal strips may also help relieve snoring.
2. Napping, Changes in Body’s Clock
Changes in circadian rhythm occur naturally as we age. This causes people to go to bed earlier and wake earlier. This change in the body’s clock can make us feel tired in the afternoon. While a quick solution would be to take a nap in the afternoon, this can backfire, and make it hard to fall asleep at night. Less exercise in the retirement years may be partly to blame, as a decline in physical activity can impact our sleep/wake schedules.
Suggestion: When napping, do your best to keep your rest time to 30 minutes or less. This shorter nap can help to improve your overall energy without interrupting nighttime sleep. And, seniors should aim to get moving every day, as physical exercise and activity can ensure better sleep.
It’s a myth that seniors and older adults need less sleep than children, teens and younger adults. According to the experts from the National Sleep Foundation, adults need nine hours of sleep each night. Yet many are not hitting the requirement. Insomnia can be caused by a range of different factors including health issues, medications, diet, stress and sleep environment.
Suggestion: If you or a loved one is experiencing insomnia, contact your doctor. Sleep experts also recommend building a connection between your bedroom and sleep. Create a bedroom that is conducive to sleep that is free of clutter, blue light-emitting technology distractions such as blinking clocks and televisions, and decorate with plush pillows and blackout curtains or blinds for optimal rest. Technology can impact our sleep more than we think. Devices can wake us up, keep or brain alert and technology has been said to suppress melatonin, the hormone that controls circadian rhythm.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to getting the best sleep possible. However, there are a number of ways seniors can improve their sleep and their overall health, from keeping naps to 30 minutes or less during the day, employing home remedies for snoring or creating a bedroom that is prime for optimal rest.