Insomnia 101: Why it Happens in Seniors
Insomnia is one of the biggest issues to impact today’s senior community and it is something that is causing serious health concerns among a number of older adults. While the average senior needs between seven and nine hours of sleep per night, most adults age 65 and older aren’t getting this much sleep. In fact, they aren’t getting close to enough sleep, due in many situations, to issues with insomnia. Understanding insomnia, why it happens and how it impacts seniors can help any senior find the help they need to get the quality rest they deserve.
Why Insomnia Happens
There are a number of different reasons why insomnia happens not only in seniors but in all adults. For many seniors, insomnia occurs due to biological changes in their internal clock. While many seniors experience this sensation, it typically only manifests in some seniors becoming “morning people” or experiencing a change in their normal sleeping patterns. When insomnia occurs, however, the body has trouble not only staying on its cycle but falling asleep or staying asleep, even when the person is feeling sleep-deprived. Health problems can cause insomnia as can inconsistencies in routines and habits. No matter what the cause, insomnia can impact any senior and have some devastating effects.
How it Impacts Seniors
For many people who are unfamiliar with insomnia, this condition can seem mostly like an inconvenience rather than a serious concern. However, insomnia is about more than just feeling tired during the day, especially for seniors. When seniors aren’t getting rest, their bodies aren’t getting rest. Sleep is essential as it helps the brain form memories, repair cell damage, fight off mental health issues and to maintain an active metabolism. Sleep is also essential to refreshing the immune system, which is why many seniors with chronic insomnia also suffer from a number of health issues. Seniors with insomnia are also much more likely to have weight problems, fall in the middle of the night, become reliant on sleeping pills, drugs and alcohol and to have higher pain sensitivity.
While insomnia can be very common in seniors, the good news is that this condition is highly treatable. The right treatment all depends on the actual cause of insomnia. In some situations, drugs or sleep therapy treatments can be used to help seniors with insomnia, while other seniors find that changing their routine and their approach to sleep can help them get rid of insomnia. This condition can be very frustrating for any individual, especially for seniors who need even more sleep in order to be as healthy as possible.
If your senior loved one is suffering from insomnia, or you have noticed changes in their behavior during the day that may indicate they have a sleep problem, it is important that you get them to their doctor as soon as possible. The sooner insomnia can be treated, the better off as it will lessen the severity of the impact that this condition can have on any senior’s health.
- Kimberly Langdon M.D. is a retired, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine earning Honors in many rotations. She then completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University Medical Center, earning first-place for her senior research project and placed in the 98th percentile on the national exam for OB/GYN residents in the U.S..
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