Sleep problems affect people of all ages. In youth, they are easier to tolerate: a person has enough strength, patience and health to overcome this temporary ailment. But what about the elderly? Indeed, at an advanced age, lack of sleep not only interferes with being cheerful and cheerful, but also worsens the course of accumulated chronic diseases. To overcome insomnia, older people need to know both its causes and their own medical history.
Sleep changes and their consequences
It is known that sleep consists of fast and slow phases, cyclically replacing each other. And in order for a person to feel vigorous and rested during the day, the night’s sleep should not be interrupted. However, by old age, together with a change in the work of the main systems of the body, the organization of this important process of life is also rebuilt .
In particular, the duration of the fourth deep sleep phase, the delta sleep phase , changes . It is significantly reduced. This is the period of the most calm and healthy rest, the time for the restoration of strength and energy, the efficiency of organs and tissues. And all thanks to a special hormone, the concentration of which increases precisely at this stage. If it does not pass fully, then it is unlikely that in the morning the elderly person will have an excellent appearance and a good mood.
The general ratio of sleep phases is also being reconstructed : the duration of deep rest is significantly reduced compared to shallow rest . That is why people of venerable age are very sensitive and sensitive to the slightest rustles and sounds that can wake them up. This is also explained by a malfunction of the autonomic nervous system, which increases its activity towards old age. Hence, an increase in blood pressure, an increase in heart rate.
In addition to quantitative changes (in the duration of the phases), qualitative changes occur. The so-called sleep efficiency decreases – up to 80%. That is, of all the time calculated for rest and diligently spent in bed (100%), only a fraction of the hours (about 80 %) can sleep .
By old age, the rhythm of life of people, their biological clock , are also rearranged . This provokes the acceleration of many physiological processes. An elderly person who is tired faster than others has to go to bed much earlier, but also wake up in the middle of the night, about 3-4 hours. Many have to get up around 7 or even 5 in the morning; former owls turn into involuntary larks. Such night vigils lead to a strong desire to take a nap during the day, reduce the adaptation of the body when changing time zones.
Also, representatives of the older generation often complain of constant fragmentation, intermittent sleep, difficulty falling asleep both in the evening and in the middle of the night. Waking up several times during their rest, they have to spend 30-60 minutes trying to fall asleep again. Many older people suffer from frequent, difficult dreams, anxiety in the morning and when trying to sleep.
Sometimes there are more serious, dangerous disorders that require medical intervention – snoring and apnea (holding your breath during sleep).
It is clear that when such sleep problems appear, older people often become capricious and irritable. If these problems are not eliminated in time , they can provoke the development of senile dementia. And in the worst case , senile dementia.
Types and causes of sleep disorders
Insomnia is not always the main cause of poor health in an elderly person. After all , drowsiness and simply a systematic lack of sleep that have accumulated over a certain period of time can also affect the state of health .
The latter develops when it is impossible to rest, lie down, need to work for a long time . Unfavorable home environments can also interfere with healthy sleep . In this regard, older people, initially inclined to get tired much earlier, experience a severe drowsy state, a desire to sleep during the day at every opportunity and free minute.
Drowsiness, drowsiness often occurs in elderly people due to weakness, “exhaustion” of the nervous system. She, like other organs, needs proper rest to recover. If it is not there, then the ratio of the processes of excitation and inhibition changes , therefore, the general physical condition worsens.
Sleep disorders are not uncommon. An elderly person, going to bed early, is forced to spend a lot of time trying to sleep. For such kind of violations concerns the inability to go to sleep after a night of sudden awakening.
In each of the older generation has its own reasons, adversely affecting sleep. But you always need to know that diseases that have accumulated by age play an important role : gastric diseases, peptic ulcer, frequent urination, joint pain and problems with the spine, hypertension, airway obstruction, angina pectoris … And before you fight insomnia, you need to eliminate chronic diseases.
Ways to Overcome Sleep Disorders
Each of the tips presented is certainly effective to one degree or another. But in order to achieve the expected result and regularly get enough sleep, you must follow the entire set of recommendations.
- Try not to limit your physical activity. The more you move, the faster you get tired, and your body will more easily fall asleep.
- Be outdoors more often , evening walks are especially useful.
- Try to protect yourself from exciting and disturbing events, and spend the day in a relaxed environment.
- Maintain your sleep hygiene: Your bed should be neatly tucked in, without annoying folds and lumps. Use good quality cotton bedding, comfortable loose nightgowns.
- Air out your bedroom before bed. If weather conditions permit, it is good to sleep with the window ajar. But in this case, be sure to wear a light night hat.
- Eliminate any external irritants (bright light, loud noises, noise of operating equipment). If you are very empathetic, use earplugs, masks.
- Do not overeat before bedtime, try not to eat food at least two hours before bed . Avoid drinking a lot of fluids, this can lead to frequent urination and swelling.
- Try not to sleep during the day; if you can’t eliminate naps , try shortening the nap .
- If you can’t sleep for a long time, get up and walk around, do some business. When you get tired and sleepy, go back to bed.
- Organize a clear daily routine. This will make it easier for the body to get used to falling asleep at a certain time.
- Talk to your doctor about your medications. They can also lead to sleep disturbances. Try to find alternative options, do not overdo it with sleeping pills.
- Do not get used to reading lying down, do not watch TV for a long time, especially in the evening. This leads to overexcitation of the nervous system.
- Conquer your bad habits, do not consume a lot of nicotine, alcohol and caffeine.
- Try to go to bed and get up at one and the same time. Perhaps even on an alarm clock. Create your own personal sleep routine.
- Drink some milk or warm water with honey before bed .
- Don’t forget to darken your bedroom.
- Try a warm, relaxing sea salt or herbal bath before bed .
- Regularly do breathing exercises before bedtime, conduct at least a short meditation session, and a soothing acupressure massage is useful .