Sleep time varies from one person to another, but on an average an adult requires about 8 hours of sleep per night. This is true of the elderly too. But, this is not a hard and fast rule as some people require less sleep. What is of importance is that they wake up refreshed and rested.
Sleep is necessary for good mental and physical health in seniors. Lack of sleep in the elderly can manifestas mental problems like memory loss, lack of focus, concentration etc. It can also cause physical problems like rise in blood pressure, heart palpitations etc.
Causes of insomnia in the elderly
- Unhealthy diet
- Substance abuse
Ways to deal with insomnia
- Make small lifestyle changes
- Go to sleep at the same time everyday
- Get into the habit of getting up early
- Don’t nap in the afternoon
- Empty your bladder before going to sleep
- Avoid caffeinated drinks that can keep you up
- Avoid sugary foods in the evening
- Eat early, so food gets digested
- Consult a doctor
You should consult with a doctor and check whether there is an underlying cause to your insomnia. It could be a sign of some other illness,like sleep apnea. Or, it could be due to some medication that you are taking. The doctor will be able to diagnose the reason and change your medication if necessary.
- Start an activity
As we age, we tend to do less work and our lifestyle becomes sedentary. Our bodies are used to a certain amount of work and that helps in good sleep. Start a physical activity or exercise regimen that will tire you out and help you get a good night’s sleep.
- Avoid stress
Anxiety and stress can cause insomnia. Talking about your problems to a counsellor could help. They may recommend a few lifestyle changes that could help avoid stress. Alternatively, you could take up meditation or yoga to help you calm your mind and get rid of anxiety and negative thoughts.