As kids we sleep a lot, but as we age our sleeping hours reduce drastically. There are different reasons quoted for this-stress, lack of time, overtiredness and age. Age plays a pivotal role in determining sleep quality and senior citizens are worst-affected among the lot! They sleep for the minimum number of hours with little quality in it. But don’t you think there are factors beyond age that determine sleep quality and quantity in the elderly?
A study conducted proved that almost half of those aged 65 and older had trouble sleeping and more than one-third of the population were taking over-the-counter drugs to induce sleep.
Adults who fall asleep have problems staying asleep. Good sleep is an armor against negative outcomes and poor sleeping patterns increase the risk of functional decline and depression. Chronic insomnia is commonly found in older adults and can be defined as the presence of symptoms of distress and impairment that happen at least 3 nights in a week for at least 3 months without any connection to medical/mental problems or sleep disorders (obstructive sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome).
How Much is Good Enough?
Older adults need the same amount of sleep as other adults, almost 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep every night. Sleep patterns change as we age-total hours of sleep decrease, sleep fragmentation increases and number of hours of deep sleep decreases. Read more on sleep and its effect on a healthy body weight at www.firsteatright.com.
Circadian rhythm shift happens in people as they age where they wake up early in the morning and do not feel they are able to get enough sleep.
Other factors that affect sleep include personal losses, worries about the future or health problems that keep haunting the mind. But before any older adult, healthy or having chronic medical condition, resorts to using over-the-counter and prescription sleeping aids, he/she should speak to a physician first as some medications have side effects such as drowsiness, confusion, constipation and memory problems the next day. These side effects increase the risk of auto accidents, falls and hip fractures.
Cognitive therapy, behavioral interventions such as sleep restrictions and stimulus control and promoting habits that help a person have a good night’s sleep are positive methods to stimulate effective sleep routines in individuals.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.