Aging Changes in Sleep
Changes in sleep patterns can occur with normal aging. The number of hours of sleep needed remains the same. But many older individuals experience insomnia. This is the inability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
What is the information for this topic?
There are several changes in sleeping habits that are commonly seen as people age, including:
Research suggests that certain factors within the body and the environment might make it difficult to fall asleep. As a person ages, he or she secretes smaller amounts of certain substances related to the sleep/wake cycle. These include growth hormone and melatonin, a chemical that promotes sleep. Many older people may also experience some or all of these changes:
Other factors that may contribute to sleep difficulties include:
Other factors can also interfere with sleep but are not considered a part of normal aging. Many older people need to get up and use the bathroom during the night because of medical conditions. Men with benign prostatic hyperplasia, or an enlarged prostate, and people with diabetes may need to urinate at night. A variety of chronic diseases and conditions may cause anxiety, pain, or other problems that lead to insomnia.
It is important that a person develop good sleep habits. These include:
If a person is still having sleep problems after trying these steps, he or she should talk to a healthcare provider. Prescription sleep medicines, such as zolpidem and zaleplon, may be helpful. These medicines are designed to be used for a very short period of time. If used for more than 1 or 2 weeks, some of these medicines can cause addiction and worsening sleep problems. These medicines may also have dangerous side effects such as confusion, hallucinations, and an increased chance of falls.
Too little sleep can cause confusion, trouble concentrating, decreased energy, and other mental changes. Sleepiness may also lead to accidents, such as falling asleep while driving a car. Pain associated with illness may appear to be worse when a person is tired. These problems can be treated, and symptoms will often go away when the person gets enough sleep.
Article type: xmedgeneral