Back To Top

Dealing with Insomnia Problems as a Senior

Florida First on September 28, 2017

As humans get older, it may be more of a challenge to accomplish everyday activities. Even sleeping can become a dreaded chore for those whose mind or body won’t allow them to get the sleep they need. When sleep is disturbed as aging continues, the body is not getting the necessary rest to restore energy and function at its best. So, it’s important for aging individuals struggling with insomnia problems to find a solution to their skewed sleep schedules. Fortunately, there are a few things that seniors with insomnia problems can do to help get the sleep they need to maintain health.

What are Insomnia Problems?

Just as eating, drinking water, and seeking shelter are vital for health, so is sleep. So, when humans don’t get the sleep they need, it’s recognized as a sleep disorder known as insomnia. Specifically, insomnia is experiencing the inability to fall asleep, waking too early, and the inability to stay asleep. And, it’s very common amongst the aging population. In fact, according to performed by the National Institutes of Health, insomnia is the most commonly recorded sleep problem in adults over the age of 60. Symptoms of insomnia problems in older adults may include:

  • Not being able to fall asleep within 30-40 minutes
  • Awakening multiple times throughout the night
  • Experiencing exhaustion upon awakening
  • Awakening earlier than planned and not being able to go back to sleep
  • Experiencing fatigue throughout the day’s entirety

What Causes Insomnia Problems in Older Adults?

We know that older adults are more commonly affected by insomnia problems, but why? When we identify the causes of insomnia, the chance for a better night’s sleep is much greater. This is because, most of the time, insomnia problems are a result of lifestyle choices and select behaviors. Causes of insomnia may include:

Medications: Older adults may not only be struggling with insomnia but other health issues as well. These issues may require the utilization of a medicinal treatment which may cause sleeplessness as a side effect.

Pain: Older adults are at a higher risk for developing conditions resulting in acute or chronic pain symptoms. Common medical conditions which older adults may experience that cause pain include arthritis and osteoporosis. Obviously, pain can deter an individual from getting the sleep they need as a peaceful state of mind and body are required.

Other Sleep Issues: Although insomnia is the most common sleep issue that older adults deal with, there are others which may be causing it. It’s possible to be afflicted with more than one sleep problem, especially as age increases. Other sleep disorders which may result in sleeplessness include restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, and even snoring.
Anxiety and Depression: Unfortunately, anxiety and depression can play a part in aging. And, they can also affect sleep schedules. Getting older has its ups and downs, but the downs can lead to a state of depression or anxiety which may make it more challenging to get the proper amount of sleep one needs.

Treatment for Insomnia Problems

It might be easy to reach for a bottle of sleeping pills when experiencing sleep issues. But, this quick fix might not be the best option, especially for older adults. Medicine may affect older adults differently. And, older adults often have to take prescription medications for other disorders. These medications can interfere with sleeping pills and lead to adverse reactions. Fortunately, there are other methods to methods to reducing and preventing insomnia problems without medication. These methods include:

  • Preparing and sticking to a daily sleep routine
  • Creating a comfortable and dark sleep environment
  • Participating in relaxing activities before bedtime (stretching, bathing, or meditating)
  • Eliminating caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and spicy foods from intake
  • Neglecting to take naps throughout the day
  • Using the bed ONLY for sleeping

If trying these methods still aren’t helping to deal with insomnia problems, before taking sleeping medication, ask your doctor.

A Caregiver Referral to Help with Insomnia Problems

Older adults may need help setting a proper sleep schedule, taking daily medications on schedule, and with other things that may reduce the risk for sleeping problems. A home-caregiver may be able to provide help with insomnia problems in older adults! If you or your family needs a referral for a caregiver, Florida First Senior Home Care can help! Give us a call today at 561-771-5980.