Elder Sleep Issue

Learn how to sleep as you age

by The Sleeps Well Team on

in Elder Sleep Issue

Aging Woes: Sleep Deprivation

Aging can be a difficult experience for many. The changes that are bound to occur to our body as we age may be hard for us to adapt to and if we fail to adapt to them, complications may result. One of which is sleep deprivation.

The reasons why the elderly often find that they can’t sleep well can be traced back to four contributing factors: sleep habit, diet, physical health and mental health. The good news is that sleep deprivation can be prevented or cured most of the time if you are willing to take notice of and improve those four aspects of your life. The following are some advice on how to sleep better.

Aspect I: Sleep Habit
One essential sleep habit that you must cultivate regardless of your age is regularity. This helps you maintain a more consistent sleep cycle which will eventually help you sleep better when bed time arrives. There are several things that you can do to make your sleep habit more regular.

Firstly, go to bed early. This is because our natural sleep cycle is tuned such we turn in to bed when night falls and wake up when the sun rises. If you try to break this natural routine, your sleep cycle may get disrupted and you find that you can’t sleep well. One way to help adjust your sleep cycle to nature is to increase your exposure to sunlight if you are always staying indoors. This increases your melatonin level. It helps govern your sleep cycle. Two hours a day would be just nice. Another step you can take is to create a set of bedtime routine of your own. It will be like a set of tasks that you will do to relax your mind every night before retiring. Examples are reading, listening to music and meditating.

You would probably wonder whether taking daytime naps will mess up your sleep cycle. Naps are mostly beneficial as it helps recharge yourself if you feel lethargic during the day. Just remember not to take naps close to your bedtime or naps that are more than 30 minutes long.

Aspect II: Diet
This mostly concerns your diet prior to your bedtime. The reason why you can’t sleep could be due to the food or chemicals you consume before sleeping. One notable chemical that affects your sleep cycle is caffeine (contained in tea, chocolate, coffee, soft drinks). Caffeine is a stimulant that increases our alertness and pulse rate and thus, we difficulty sleeping after consuming it. The next chemical to take note of is alcohol. It may induce drowsiness in the short run but in the long run it is harmful as it affects brain activity and upsets your natural sleep cycle.

Lastly, try not to consume large amounts of food or spicy food before sleeping. If consumed, digestion becomes slower and you may experience discomfort which will then result in sleeping difficulty and sleep deprivation. Also, you should not go to bed feeling hungry as it too may affect your sleep cycle. Fill yourself up with a light meal if you are starving. Some suggestions: warm milk, biscuits, cereal, bread, etc.

Aspect III: Physical Health

You may not realize how this it is linked to your sleep cycle. Without performing sufficient physical activities, one may feel lethargic or even restless though it may seem contradicting. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals that help you sleep better.

Being an elderly should not be an excuse for you not to exercise regularly. Do try out some new activities though it may seem challenging. Dancing and yoga are good for stretching and strengthening your muscles while lawn bowling and golf are the less vigorous sports that offer you benefits such as improving your precision and coordination. If you feel that for body is fit enough for heavier exercises, try out jogging and cycling. They help increase your stamina, lung capacity and circulatory system. If you think you cannot take these exercises, at least try to stay active by getting involved in social activities.

Aspect IV: Mental Health

It is widely known that stress is one of the main causes of sleep deprivation. When you go to bed with a lot of worries, you tend to stay awake and think about them as you lie on bed trying to solve your problems with futile efforts. Moreover, when you mind is not in perfect health, your sleep mechanism may malfunction and this affects your sleep cycle. Here are tips on how to sleep better by reducing stress.

Write a list of your problems, task or goals so that you can keep track of what you have achieved and what you have not. It also helps you solve your problems by breaking them down. There are also many ways to help you channel your stress out through a healthy outlet. Examples are listening to soothing music, meditation, getting a massage or confiding in someone about your problems.

Final advice: These steps should be practiced in moderation. Have a healthy and well balanced lifestyle. Take your sleep deprivation problem easily and try not to force these solutions on yourself.

I am old and I can’t sleep!

by The Sleeps Well Team on

in Elder Sleep Issue

Health conditions & medications can hinder your quality sleep
You can’t sleep well with discomfort or pain. Moreover, health conditions like frequent urge to urinate, night-time heartburn, menopause, diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s can obstruct your sleep.

Quality sleeps may be affected when people diagnosed with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) and sleeping-disordered breathing (snoring and sleep apnea).

Elderly tend to need more medications, and when they consume drugs together, the side-effects of individual drugs can trigger frequent awakenings at night and they can’t sleep. Seeking a doctor or sleeping therapist for help is a better choice to see which medication is making you can’t sleep.

Psychological stress
Life-changing events like death of loved ones or moving away can cause stress. Moreover, living in the cities today can also bring stress to people. If you can’t sleep with anxiety and sadness, and if not solved, this in turn can lead to more uneasiness or even depression and thus corrupts your sleep cycle.

Sleep and your lifestyle
A National Sleep Foundation (NSF) studied the close relationship between the health and their sleep quality of older adults. It is found that older adults with better health tend to sleep well. Whereas, with the increase in medical conditions adults have, it is more likely that they can’t sleep at night or have difficulties in their sleeping cycle.

Also, they realised people that try to stay happy as well as being active and having interactive lifestyles such as having close talks with others, playing sports in a group, or getting into volunteerism, they usually sleeps 7–9 hours and have regular sleep cycle.

Sleeping difficulties does not always come from aging. Insomnia and other sleeping problems are actually not part of aging process. Rather, your sleeping lifestyle, medications or sleeping disorder impacts greatly on your good night sleep.

Yes, as you age, you may feel changes in your sleep cycle, such as fragmented sleeps, shorter duration of deep sleep, and waking up often at night for no apparent reason.

You may find that your sleep cycle changes, wanting to sleep earlier when it’s evening, and wake up very early in the morning, which after that you can’t sleep any longer. This is caused by a fall in certain sleep functioning hormones – such as Melatonin.

Many know that a good sleep is necessary for good health physically and emotionally. Moreover, a good sleep cycle is vital with age because it improves your focus, helps in your body reparations of cell damage, strengthens your immune system, and memory development.

People usually complain that they can’t sleep, frequently waking up at night, or do not feel energised in the morning and also tired during the day. Sometimes, they even need the afternoon naps.

These problems seem to arise often as you age.

If you want be in your tiptop condition every day, you need a good sleep cycle, and importantly your daily lifestyle plays a part.

Some tips to regulate sleep cycle are:
1) Adopt good sleep hygiene, eliminate bad habits – Poor sleeping practice and/or surrounding makes people can’t sleep at night. Examples: Haphazard sleeping hours, excessive napping in the day, consuming alcohol before bedtime.

2) Exercise – Inactiveness makes you feel sleepy often. Regular exercise in the morning can promote good sleep.