Insomnia: What You Need to Know as You Age

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that cuts across people of all ages. At one point or the other in our lives, we tend to experience sleepless nights. However, it tends to grow worse in certain individuals than in others. There are different lifestyle habits to cure or manage this condition. For instance, you can also buy temazepam 10mg online or consult medical professionals. 

While insomnia can strike at any age, older people are at higher risk. This is because as we get older, the level of hormones like estrogen that cause us to sleep well may start to reduce. If you or your loved ones have insomnia, it is essential to know the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for you. This article discusses all you need to know about insomnia as you age.

Causes of Insomnia in Older People

Underlying Medical Problem

While insomnia in older people may be due to some primary sleep disorder, in most cases, they are a result of certain underlying health conditions. Therefore, rather than treating sleep disorders, it is always advisable to visit a medical practitioner who can help you detect and treat any underlying medical condition. Below are some medical conditions that may lead to insomnia:

  • Medication side effects
  • Heart and lung conditions
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Urinary problems
  • Neurodegenerative disorder

Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders

Sleep-related breathing disorders (SRBD) are common conditions among older people, particularly overweight men. It is a condition that has to do with how you breathe while sleeping. An example of SRBD is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is commonly found among middle-aged adults and has been associated with other health conditions like snoring. It happens when an individual frequently pauses in their sleep while they sleep.

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Periodic Limb Movements of Sleep (PLMS)

PLMS is a common condition that makes you move the lower limbs intermittently during sleep. Sometimes, it also affects the knees, hips, toes, or ankles. While these intermittent movements may not be enough to wake you up, your bed partner may find it disturbing and annoying. Most times, PLMS is associated with other sleep disorders like sleep apnea and restless legs. However, they can also cause sleep disturbance on their own.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

If you always have a feeling of itching or crawling when trying to sleep, it may be due to RLS. Although the symptoms are not painful, they are a major disturbance to sleep. This condition is common among older females and is caused by poor health and low iron levels.

Symptoms of Insomnia

Most people with insomnia are light sleepers. They tend to sleep very early and wake up in the middle of the night. They may also sleep at intervals while at work during the day. Below are other symptoms to look out for as you age:

  • Do you find it hard to sleep even when tired?
  • Do you take alcohol or sleeping pills to fall asleep?
  • Do you feel weak when you wake up in the morning?
  • Do you find it hard to get back to sleep when awakened?
  • Do you find your emotions uncontrollable? 
  • Do you have trouble focusing at work?

If your answers to the above questions are positive, then you may have insomnia, and you should visit your doctor immediately.

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Prevention of Insomnia in Older People

Set Aside Time For Sleep

To prevent your loved ones from having insomnia, ensure they keep a consistent sleep cycle. Although it’s important to sleep for up to nine hours at night, it is more important to follow the routine religiously. You can set the alarm for bedtime and wake-up time for your loved ones if need be.

Prepare Your Brain For Sleep

Instead of waiting for your brain to shut down automatically, ensure you consciously prepare it for sleep. The following are some recommended ways to help you:

  • Avoid tedious work at night. Ensure you conclude your activities during the day. This includes exercises.
  • You can take a shower or put on your sleepwear. This may signal to your brain that it’s bedtime.
  • Light prevents your brain from shutting down. Ensure you put off your devices 30 minutes before you sleep.
  • Avoid drinking coffee and other caffeinated drinks before you sleep.
  • Avoid eating heavy meals before you sleep.

Prevent Sleep Problems From Growing Worse

If you or your loved one already has insomnia, you must take steps to prevent it from becoming worse. Below are steps you can take:

  • Avoid sleeping during the day as it may hinder you from sleeping at night.
  • Avoid dwelling on your inability to sleep. Instead, focus on ways to treat the problem.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol before bedtime. It can hinder you from staying asleep.

Treatment of Insomnia

Create a Peaceful Bedroom Environment

Most times, doctors recommend having a welcoming bedroom environment. This helps to signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep. Ensure your bedroom is as cool, calm, and dark as possible. You can maintain a bedroom temperature below 23 degrees Celsius.

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Avoid Using Your Bedroom For Other Activities

Using your bedroom for activities other than sleeping can make you get used to sleepless nights. Ensure you don’t just lie awake in bed. If you don’t feel sleepy yet, you can keep yourself busy in the living room until you feel ready to sleep.

Keep a Sleep Diary

Having a record of how much you sleep at night and your sleep patterns help your doctor to make an accurate diagnosis. Treatment options for insomnia also vary depending on your sleep record. You may have to reduce the sleep time until there’s an improvement.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

While this is often overlooked, it’s one of the ways to treat insomnia. Avoid unhealthy foods both during the day and at night. Also, ensure you exercise regularly during the day. You should also avoid smoking and drinking as much as possible. 

If you’ve tried the above treatment options and symptoms persist, then ensure you visit your doctor immediately. Your doctor may decide to prescribe sleeping pills depending on your condition. However, ensure you don’t engage in self-medication. You can visit; to learn more about insomnia treatments. 

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