Getting To The Root Cause Of Senior Sleep Disturbances
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This article was written to promote awareness on age-related sleep issues and offer research-based information on possible solutions to overcome them.
Sleep is crucial to your overall health. Unfortunately, as we age, sleep is often more difficult to regulate. There are many reasons for this, from arthritis in back pain to side-effects of medication and an unstructured schedule. Keep reading for a few tips on how to figure out what’s keeping you up, and advice on how to go down without a fuss.
Pain: A common culprit
If you find it difficult to sleep at night because pain has become your permanent bed partner, you are not alone. According to Sunrise Senior Living, about half of all older adults have arthritis. Many more suffer from the lingering effects of old injuries.
Eye pain and headaches are common ailments for people of all ages, including seniors, and can make it difficult to fall asleep at night. If eye strain or facial muscle pain are interfering with your sleep, the Grabby Loots Smart Eye Massager could help relieve tension and help you find those elusive Zzs. It has air pressure massage, vibrating massage, and hot compression to relax your pain away, and could be a helpful pre-bedtime remedy.
Back pain is another common complaint and the one that is most likely to take a toll on your emotional health as well. The good news is that switching to a firm mattress may do the trick. A harder surface is great for people with pain at the base of their backs. On the other hand, those with strain and tension between the shoulders may want a more plush mattress.
Medication: A menace
If you are currently under a physician’s care for high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, or Alzheimer’s disease, your medication might be the cause of your sleeplessness. According to the AARP, these conditions and many others are often treated with drugs such as alpha-blockers, corticosteroids, and cholinesterase inhibitors.
If your sleep pattern suddenly changes after adding a new prescription to your daily routine, schedule a visit with your doctor. They might have an alternative available that won’t interfere with your rest. You can also talk to your pharmacist to find out if any of your current medications cause over-alertness when taken at the same time.
A new routine
When you retire, your days suddenly change. You are no longer obligated to spend eight or more hours each day up and active. Because of this, it becomes easy to effectively turn your schedule upside down. It’s not uncommon for seniors to become night owls but then also try to maintain their early-morning routine.
Take a close look at how you spend your days. If it is in front of the television or sitting in your favorite rocking chair, you might try readjusting your routine to follow your body's natural rhythm. You can try things like turning on bright lights during the day, normalizing mealtimes, and maintaining a consistent sleeping schedule.
The Atlantic points out there may be other negative influences on your circadian rhythm as well, like alcohol consumption or even cataracts, so consider what might be contributing to your troubles and address any issues you find.
Stress and sleep don’t mix
Stress is another unwelcome occurrence in your senior years. For the first time, you are suddenly living without a steady income, you may find it more difficult to drive, and as your children and grandchildren become absorbed in their own lives, you may find yourself lonely and anxious. Each of these can take a toll on your mental health.
Look for ways to naturally relieve stress and anxiety. One simple and yet frequently-overlooked strategy is to make sure that your bedroom promotes a sense of calm. Try removing elements that may be inadvertently causing you stress when you try to hit the hay. Are there electronics that glow and make it difficult to sleep? Cover them at night with a towel or blanket. Do you have artwork that’s more invigorating than soothing? Relocate it to another room. An even simpler approach is to keep your bedroom clean and free of clutter, since dirty, overfilled spaces tend to create bad energy that can interfere with our mood, especially right before bed. You can even use remedies like sage and frankincense for an added mood-lifting factor.
In addition, essential oils, like lavender, chamomile, and valerian root, all have known calming properties. You can employ these during the day using an essential oil diffuser and humidifier so that you do not feel on edge or use them at night in the form of tea to calm your mind before bed.
Speaking of the mind, it can also help to be mindful of your day, and especially of the transition from afternoon to evening. You can even add apps to your phone designed to help you cut anxiety levels or to work on mindfulness.
While an inability to sleep poses a challenge, it is possible to determine the root cause so that you can do something about it. Talk to your doctor and pharmacist, but also do not be afraid to look for ways to take your sleep habits back into your own hands. Simple things, like swapping your mattress or enjoying essential oils, can go a long way toward improving your overnight hours.
Wellness Central (wellnesscentral.info)