Seniors experience occasional sleepless nights; however, it can become a problem when it's happening more frequently and causing negative consequences. Insomnia occurs when an individual can't fall asleep, stay asleep, or wakes up too early and can't get back to sleep. Read on to get more information about senior insomnia and how to address it.
Signs of Insomnia
We need sleep just as much as we need air, water, and food. It's a basic human need, as it refreshes our minds, bodies, energy levels, and boosts our overall well-being. Insomnia affects up to 50-60% of the senior population and can result in depression, memory loss, irritability, and many other negative effects.
To be on the lookout, here are some basic signs of insomnia:
- Not feeling rested after a full night's sleep
- Depressed, anxious, irritable
- Can't fall asleep at night
- Wakes up too early
- Wakes up in the middle of the night
- Loss of memory
- An increased amount of accidents or mistakes
- Difficulty paying attention
- Constantly worries or obsesses about sleep
What Causes Insomnia?
Certain medications are often the main cause of insomnia. It can also be triggered by sleep environments and sleeping habits that they've been in the habit of doing for years. Other causes include:
Stress: Major life changes, the death of a loved one, work-related stressors, or other issues may affect sleep patterns.
Poor sleep habits: Sleep environment may not be acceptable. Temperature, type of bed, lighting, noises, etc. can all have effects on one's quality of sleep. Additionally, taking naps during the day can impact your sleep at night.
Irregular schedule: Constant traveling can cause jet lag which throws off the body's internal clock.
Stimulants: Such as coffee, alcohol, or cigarettes can cause a jolt of energy making it harder to fall asleep.
Eating too much in the evening: A small snack is fine, but heartburn and an uncomfortable feeling from being full can make it hard to fall asleep.
Mental health disorders: Post-traumatic stress, depression disorders, and other mental health disorders can cause insomnia.
Techniques to Help with Insomnia
There are simple steps you can take first, such as ensuring you have a quiet, comfortable environment to help you get to sleep. Establish bedtime routines like warm baths, dimmed lighting, and a favorite book to enjoy before bed. You can train your brain to anticipate and enjoy a regular time for rest. If insomnia is affecting a senior in your life and nothing seems to be helping, encourage them to see a medical professional for help.