Senior Sleep Problems

Did you know the amount of restful sleep we get each night decreases as we get older? According to the National Sleep Foundation, older people spend more time in the lighter stages of sleep than in a restorative deep sleep. As we age, it becomes more difficult to achieve a restful sleep throughout the night, causing irritability, grogginess and lack of focus the next day.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, studies show that it takes older people longer to fall asleep; they no longer receive the same amount of REM sleep; and they tend to wake up more throughout the night. As we get older and are diagnosed with an increase in medical issues, our sleep begins to suffer. For example, women going through menopause deal with hot flashes that disrupt their sleep throughout the night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, hypertension, which becomes more common with age, is linked to snoring, which can keep both the snorer and their partner up during the night. Older Americans are much more likely to suffer from insomnia, as well, and studies show that nearly 45 percent of this demographic has experienced either one or more symptoms of insomnia three or more times a week.

Doctors can prescribe medication to help you sleep, but there are a number of changes you can make to improve your sleeping habits. Limiting caffeine, alcohol and tobacco before bed can yield positive results. Keep in mind that even decaffeinated coffee and tea still contain small amounts caffeine, so limit those beverages before retiring for the night. Keeping a routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day will help train your body to know when it's time to wind down. Turn off the TV and other devices so as not to interrupt your sleep. If you rely on the TV to help you drift off, set the timer so it doesn't stay on all night and risk waking you up again. Make sure your bedroom is a comfortable temperature - experts recommend between 60 and 67 degrees for optimal sleep. If you tend to overheat during the night, consider purchasing cooling pajamas and bedding to keep you comfortable as you sleep.