7 Top Causes of Sleep Problems in Aging, & Proven Tips

July 29, 2020. Published by Categorised in:
Sleep Problems

Introduction

Adults require 7-9 hours of good quality sleep every night for staying physically and mentally healthy. Sufficient quality sleep with a comfortable mattress helps us to live a comfortable, robust, and productive life and also avoid developing serious diseases. As we start aging, our mind and body start changing, and along with it, our sleep changes as well. Older adults sleep less deeply than younger adults and older adults feel sleepy in the evenings. Check out this mattress guide to prepare a suitable Brooklyn mattress that can help you with quality sleep.

Simply accepting worrisome changes in your sleep as part of aging is not the right way to go and we should look to make our sleep better and continue to lead a healthy life even in old age. 

Poor or insufficient sleep may be an indication of an underlying illness or because of your lifestyle.

Here are 7 top causes of sleep problems in aging.

Top Causes of Sleep Problems in Aging

Poor sleep schedule

The human body when exposed to natural light syncs its circadian rhythm with the morning and night that helps the brain to guide your sleep.

Aged adults tend to stay indoors and be under artificial lights most of the time which messes up their circadian rhythm and results in all kinds of sleep disorders.

Also, day napping by aged adults is another issue that can cause various sleep disorders like, delay in falling asleep, poor quality of sleep, fragmented sleep, etc.

Poor lifestyle

Your body keeps on changing as you age and your metabolism weakens as well which can result in sleep disorders.

Consuming alcohol is bad for your sleep because it can make you prone to waking up frequently and also urge you to use the bathroom during the night.

Consumption of caffeine-laden food and drinks cause a delay in falling asleep. Dark chocolates may have caffeine in them.

Intake of sugary drinks or food too late in the evening can cause delays in falling asleep and can cause fragmented sleep.

Lack of physical activity is another cause of sleep disorders.

Having the last meal of the day close to bedtime can cause sleep disorders.

Underlying medical problem

Older adults may have sleep problems because of some underlying illness like cardiovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, gastroesophageal acid reflux disease(GERD), osteoarthritis, urinary problems due to enlarged prostate or an overactive bladder, depression, and anxiety, some neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

Sometimes, the medication taken for the treatment of some diseases can cause sleep disorders as well.

Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders

Some of the people when they age may develop sleep-related breathing disorders (SRBD) which can cause sleep problems. The most common among these is snoring. The severe condition can cause obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which happens because of a brief pause of 20-40 seconds in breathing due to obstructed airways.

A rare form of sleep-related breathing disorder is central sleep apnea (CSA), which happens because of a brief pause in breathing because of changes in the brain.

Restless leg syndrome

Some of the aged adults suffer from restless leg syndrome (RLS), which is caused by sensations of itching, crawling, or restlessness in legs when trying to fall asleep. It can delay you from falling asleep because it can make you uncomfortable, but it doesn’t give you any pain. Some experts believe it is related to levels of iron and dopamine in the brain and not related to neurodegeneration.

Periodic Limb Movements of Sleep

Some of the aged adults develop periodic limb movements of sleep (PLMS), which is caused by intermittent movements of legs while asleep. These periodic limb movements may wake you up frequently and result in fragmented sleep.

Poor sleep environment

Your sleep environment plays a big part in your sleep health. Since aged adults don’t get deep sleep, any unwanted sound and outside light may also disturb their sleep repeatedly through the night.

A hot bedroom can make you uncomfortable and may cause sleep problems because for good quality sleep you need to stay cool while asleep.

As you age, your body undergoes physiological changes that your old mattress may not be able to provide the required support to your aging body.

Here are some of the proven tips for getting better sleep.

Follow a schedule

You should follow a proper sleep schedule so that your circadian rhythm doesn’t get disturbed and you can get sufficient quality sleep.

You should expose yourself to natural light to keep your circadian rhythm in-sync with day and night.

You should follow a schedule for having your meals. You should have the last meal of the day two hours before your bedtime.

You should not take naps during the day.

Follow healthy food habits

You should consume the following type of foods for improving your sleep health.

Nutrient-Rich Fruits contain potassium, calcium, magnesium, and amino-acid tryptophan, which increases the level of serotonin, the sleep-inducing hormone.

Examples: Bananas, cherries, apples, apricots, and peaches.

Complex Carbs that boost the level of tryptophan, which increases serotonin level and are rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, and potassium are good for your sleep.

Examples: Oatmeal, popcorn, sweet potato

Lean Protein contains a high level of amino-acid tryptophan, which increases the level of serotonin, the sleep-inducing hormone.

Examples: Eggs, lean chicken or turkey meat, fish

Heart-Healthy Fats that are good for your heart and contain magnesium, which helps in relaxing your muscles, and is good for your sleep.

Examples: Avocados, almonds, cashews, and pistachios.

Warm beverages that contain calcium, tryptophan, or sedative herbs are good for your sleep.

Examples: Warm milk, chamomile tea, peppermint tea.

You should not eat oily, fatty, spicy foods as they tend to disturb your digestive system and may increase the chances of acid reflux.

You should not eat excessively sweet food items as they can cause indigestion and spike your insulin level. High insulin levels may interfere with sleep-inducing hormones.

You should limit the intake of food or drinks that contain caffeine and alcohol. You should not consume caffeine-laden food or drinks in the late afternoon or evening as they interfere with your sleep. Caffeine keeps you alert and you may struggle to fall asleep faster. Alcohol consumption may lead to fragmented sleep.

Meditate and exercise

You should start meditating or do mindfulness activity as they help in falling asleep faster and improve sleep health.

Meditation and exercising help in reducing your stress level and eliminates anxiety which results in better sleep health.

Walking and exercising can help in overcoming RLS and PLMS as well and you can sleep better.

Follow healthy sleep hygiene

You should follow healthy sleep hygiene that can include washing your face, brushing teeth, taking a bath with warm water before going to bed.

Have a perfect sleep environment

You should use your bedroom only for sleeping and intimacy. All the electronic gadgets that emit blue light and can disturb your sleep should be kept out of the bedroom. Blue light fools your brain and spoils your circadian rhythm.

You should use dark blinds or heavy curtains to keep outside light from disturbing your sleep.

You should use a white noise machine to override the unwanted sounds that can disturb your sleep.

You should maintain a cool temperature in your bedroom by setting the thermostat level between 16-19.4°C (60-67°F).

Invest in the right mattress

You should invest in the right mattress that can support your aged body and make you comfortable while you are asleep. A right mattress will not allow the creation of pressure points and allow proper contouring and alignment so that you wake up relaxed, refreshed, and without body aches.

A right mattress that has more breathability should be able to keep you cool when you are asleep and you don’t wake up due to heat. You can find all quality sleep conditions in a affordable mattress as well.

Conclusion

Sufficient good quality sleep is a must for everyone to stay mentally and physically healthy, more so for aged adults. These proven tips should be able to assist you in conquering sleep disorders that may happen due to aging. Consult your doctor if these tips don’t improve your sleep health as some sleep disorders maybe because of some underlying illness that hasn’t been diagnosed yet.

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