There’s little that feels better than getting a good night’s sleep. Sleep is an essential part of good health, and when we experience disturbances with our slumber it can lead to health issues if not addressed. As a person ages, they become more at risk for a number of health issues, including sleep disturbances. It is not uncommon for older adults to have changes in their sleep patterns. Both the quality and quantity of sleep can be affected by age.
What does age have to do with sleep? According to the Sleep Foundation, changes in hormone production, particularly melatonin and cortisol, play a role in sleep disturbances in seniors. Melatonin is a hormone that the brain produces in response to darkness. It signals the body that it is time to sleep. As a person ages, the body releases less melatonin. Without this signal, the body’s circadian rhythm can be thrown off balance. In addition to lack of melatonin, there are health issues and lifestyle choices that can lead to sleep disturbances as well.
Health Issues That Affect Sleep
Depression, anxiety, heart disease, diabetes, and even arthritis are all common conditions that can affect a person’s quality and duration of sleep. And the more health conditions a person has, the more sleep may be impacted. According to the CDC, around 85% of seniors have at least one chronic health condition and approximately 60% have two or more. People with multiple health conditions report getting less than six hours of sleep, having poor quality sleep, and experiencing symptoms of a sleep disorder.
On top of chronic illnesses, the medications used to manage these conditions may also disrupt sleep. More than half of seniors take 4 or more medications to manage health issues, and many prescription and over-the-counter medications can contribute to sleep problems. Antihistamines and opiates, for instance, can cause drowsiness during the day which can lead to poor sleep at night. If a senior loved one takes multiple medications and is experiencing sleep problems, discuss with his or her doctor whether any medications may be part of the issue.
Other Conditions That May Affect Senior Sleep Patterns
While aging affects everyone differently, there are a few common sleep issues that experts have noted among seniors, including:
Sleep Tips for Older Adults
You can also partner with a professional home care provider like Visiting Care Giving Services, a dedicated provider of home care in O’Fallon, MO and surrounding areas. Our in-home care services can help seniors stay active during the day with friendly companionship, exercise, accompaniment to outings, and more that can help them feel more relaxed and restful in the evenings. We can also create a safe and calming atmosphere in the home that promotes better sleep.