If you're experiencing insomnia, you're not the only one up late at night. Difficulty sleeping can affect you at any age, but older adults often have a higher chance of experiencing insomnia due to a variety of factors. Being aware of sleep difficulties and doing things to improve your sleep can help you get the rest you need.
Insomnia is a type of sleep disorder that means you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. You could experience just one of those issues, or you could experience both together. That means once you do finally fall asleep, you might wake up frequently and have trouble falling back asleep. It's normal to experience a sleepless night occasionally, but insomnia becomes an issue when it's persistent. It deprives you of the sleep you need to feel rested and stay healthy.
Your sleep patterns often change as you get older. Many older adults get tired earlier in the evening and wake up earlier in the morning. You might notice that you wake up more frequently throughout the night. You might also experience insomnia regularly.
Hormone changes as you age often play a part in sleep issues. Your body typically produces less melatonin as you get older. Because this hormone helps regulate your sleep, the decreasing amount can cause sleep difficulties.
You might also have health conditions that impact your sleep. This can include depression, anxiety, dementia, Alzheimer's, restless leg syndrome, chronic pain and respiratory diseases. Some of your medications could make it more difficult to sleep, including antidepressants, blood pressure medications and nasal decongestants. This is considered secondary insomnia because there's an underlying condition that's causing your sleep disturbances.
Insomnia happens when you have enough time to sleep adequately and a comfortable spot to sleep but still can't. If you have difficulty falling asleep, have difficulty staying asleep or experience frequent wake-ups during the night despite those things, you could have insomnia.
The other part of insomnia is how it affects you during the day. If you have insomnia, you typically feel excessively sleepy during the day. You might be irritable and have trouble focusing. Doctors typically diagnose chronic insomnia if you experience these symptoms three or more times per week over 3 months or more.
If you experience regular insomnia or sleep disturbances, visiting your doctor can help pinpoint the issue. Your health care provider can help determine if an underlying health condition is causing your sleep issues. They might recommend various methods of relieving your insomnia, including:
You might also consider alternative medicine options for insomnia. Some people use herbal supplements, such as valerian root and chamomile, to help them sleep. Melatonin supplements might help you fall asleep better. Other options include acupuncture, meditation and sleep hypnosis. Always talk to your regular health care provider about alternative medicine options, especially if you have health conditions or take medications.
You can also try general tips to improve your sleeping environment. Having a comfortable space that promotes good sleep may make it easier to fall asleep and help you stay asleep longer. Try these changes to your bedroom.
Your activities during the day can affect how you sleep. These things can improve sleep:
Upgrade your bedding to ensure it's as comfortable as possible. You might add a mattress topper for cushioning or support. New sheets for the season can keep you comfortable. Flannel sheets keep you cozy in the winter, while cooler sheets are ideal in the summer.
Cooler bedrooms, typically between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, are often ideal for sleeping. Warmer temperatures can disrupt your REM sleep.
Most people sleep better in a completely dark room. Adding blackout window treatments can help darken your space. Move items that generate light out of your bedroom to keep things dark.
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