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Sleeping – Can you get a good night’s sleep?

Lubosh Hanuska for Age Right

Yes, your sleep can get better!

As we get older, many of our physical, emotional, and social challenges become more difficult. Common problems people have as they get older include chronic health conditions, reduced mobility, cognitive decline, social isolation, and loss of independence. However, there is one important issue that is often overlooked – lack of good sleep. Once retired, many people believe they can enjoy more sleep, stay in bed in the morning, and nap in the afternoon. However, this does not mean that their sleep quality has improved! They still often feel tired and have less energy, no matter how much they try to sleep.

Our sleep patterns tend to change as we age, but the quality of continuous night sleep should not be underestimated, and older adults often have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. Some common sleep problems that older adults may experience include:

Insomnia: Insomnia is a sleep disorder where a person has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night.

Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is a condition where a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep, which can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness and other health problems.

Restless leg syndrome: Restless leg syndrome is a condition where a person feels an uncontrollable urge to move their legs, which can disrupt sleep.

Periodic limb movement disorder: Periodic limb movement disorder is a sleep disorder where a person’s limbs twitch or jerk involuntarily during sleep, which can disrupt sleep.

Sleep problems can have a significant impact on an older adult’s quality of life and overall health. If you feel that your sleep is letting you down perhaps it is time to look at some ways to improve it. Here are a few simple strategies:

There are several strategies that older adults can use to overcome sleep problems:

1. Practice good sleep hygiene: This includes establishing a consistent sleep routine, avoiding stimulants like caffeine and nicotine before bedtime, and creating a comfortable sleep environment.

2. Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can improve sleep quality and help regulate the sleep-wake cycle.

3. Manage stress: Stress can interfere with sleep, so it is essential to practice stress management techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.

4. Avoid naps: Napping during the day can interfere with nighttime sleep, so it is best to avoid napping or limit naps to no more than 30 minutes.

5. Limit screen time: The blue light emitted from electronic devices can interfere with sleep, so it is best to avoid using electronic devices before bedtime.

6. Consider cognitive-behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I): CBT-I is a type of therapy that can help identify and change negative thoughts and behaviours related to sleep.

7. Talk to a healthcare provider: A healthcare provider can recommend suitable medication to assist with your sleep. There are products available directly from chemists and some that need a prescription from your doctor.

Age Right will run a free program for our patients during which we will introduce you to several ways to improve your sleep and teach you to manage a good sleep hygiene.