Sleeping Problems Associated with Aging

As you age, your body and mind undergo many changes. Even your sleep pattern, your lifestyle and body can change.

You may find it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep at night. You may find yourself more tired and in need of a nap during the day.

Aging can lead to changes in your sleep patterns for several reasons:

You may have more health problems

Sleep problems are more common in older adults. They can include conditions such as arthritis, obesity and sleep apnea. Other problems may be acid reflux, cognitive impairment, or aches.

You may not be able to do much about the underlying problem. If you are able to treat the condition, or manage its symptoms at least, you might be able improve your sleep.

Your Medication Mays Affect Your Sleep

Often, medications are prescribed to treat these health problems. Some of these drugs can cause side effects that disrupt sleep. Examples include:

  • Antihistamines for allergies
  • SSRIs for depression
  • Decongestants for stuffy nose
  • Corticosteroids for inflammation
  • Beta-blockers for high blood pressure
  • Ace inhibitors for high blood pressure
  • Statins for high cholesterol
  • Cholinesterase inhibitors for Alzheimer’s
  • Theophylline for asthma
  • Replacement of hormones Thyroid conditions

Speak to your doctor about your medication if you feel like it is contributing to sleeplessness, fatigue or other problems. This could indicate that you require a different dosage or medication.

Naps Can Change Your Sleep Schedule

The older adults are more likely to nap during the day. Although a quick nap can help restore energy, it may interfere with your nighttime sleep.

A vicious cycle can be created by fatigue during the day, and insomnia at night. You are more likely to experience insomnia at night if you nap more during the day.

You should not nap on your couch or in your chair. Sleeping in uncomfortable positions can worsen aches and discomforts, and disrupt your sleep.

You May Experience Nocturia

Nocturia, or waking up to urinate at night is a formal term. It can be related to the amount or type of alcohol or caffeine you consume. This could be due to diabetes, heart problems, infections, inflammation or age-related urinary problems.

Talk to your doctor if you still have frequent bathroom visits at night. Speak to your doctor about frequent nighttime bathroom trips. You may be prescribed medication to help relieve your symptoms.

Hormone Changes Can Change Sleep Patterns

Hot flashes, night sweats, and other symptoms can affect sleep. Changes in mood or energy can make it difficult to sleep.

Melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep, is produced less by our bodies as we age. Melatonin regulates our sleep-wake cycles. This decline in melatonin may make it difficult to sleep and to stay asleep.

Your Mental Health Matters Too

Your mental health will have an impact on your sleeping patterns no matter your age. Sleep can be affected by conditions like depression, anxiety and stress.

Older adults who have difficulty sleeping may be more likely to experience grief or loss.

Speak to your doctor or a psychologist if your mental health is causing you problems. You can learn coping strategies and they may prescribe medication that will improve your symptoms.

Your sleep patterns will improve when you find stability and comfort within your emotional life.