Sleeping Disorders in Seniors
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With aging, there’s less slow–wave, deeper sleep. Therefore, older persons are more likely to be awakened by noises in the environment. A number of health problems can make sleeping difficult.
People with arthritis may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep because of painful joints. A 1996 Gallup Poll found that 30% of all nighttime pain sufferers experience arthritis pain at night. The number rises to 60% for those over age 50. If you suffer from arthritis, ask your doctor about treatment for the pain. In that same poll, back pain, headaches, muscular aches, leg cramps and sinus pain were also cited by those who had night time pain.
Nighttime heartburn is marked by wheezing and chronic cough, with repeated awakenings and daytime sleepiness. Raising the head of the bed may alleviate symptoms, or medication may be needed.
Asthma, chronic interstitial lung disease, and various neuromuscular diseases can cause awakening. One study found that 74% of people with asthma were awakened from sleep in any given week.
The hot flashes and breathing changes associated with menopause appear to disturb sleep. In one study, hot flashes were associated with arousals once every eight minutes on average.
Ask your doctor or pharmacist if your medications can cause insomnia or drowsiness, and if changing the time the drug is taken could help overcome these problems.
Production of the hormone melatonin, which influences sleep and wakefulness, decreases with age, just at the time when the likelihood of sleep disorders increases.
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