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As with any adult, alder adults need the same amount of sleep each night. The National Institute of Aging states that all adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night in order to stay healthy and alert. It may be time to visit your primary care physician if you (or your loved one) are finding it difficult to fall asleep or are always walking up tired.
Older Adults and Sleep
Some of the many reasons why you (or your loved one) are not getting enough sleep could be pain, feeling ill, or side effects of medications. Lack of sleep can manifest as:
- Feelings of depression
- Increased falls or accidents
To Sleep or Not to Sleep
Insomnia a sleep problem more common in older adults 60 years and older. Insomnia, by definition, means simply…inability to sleep. But insomnia is not simple as it can be acute (short term) or chronic (lasting for several months). There are also different types of insomnia:
|Types of Insomnia||Meaning|
|Sleep maintenance||Trouble staying asleep or waking too early|
|Mixed||Trouble falling asleep and staying asleep|
|Paradoxical||Feeling like you’ve slept less than you actually do|
Many adults will experience insomnia at some point that can last for days or even weeks. Symptoms of insomnia might include:
* Daytime tiredness or sleepiness
* Difficulty paying attention, focusing on tasks or remembering
* Worries about sleep
Alzheimer’s Disease and Sleep
Sleeping habits in persons with Alzheimer’s often changes and it varies because some sleep too much while others don’t sleep enough. There are others who wake up several times; and still others who wander or yell out at night.
If you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, you may be losing sleep as well, leaving you tired and grumpy. Here are some tips for a person with Alzheimer’s for a good night’s sleep:
- Get on a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time every day even on weekends.
- No naps (if you can). Naps can keep you awake at night
- Make a bedtime routine: Take some time for relaxation before bedtime every night like reading a book, listening to music or a soak in a warm bath.
- No electronic devices in the bedroom. This includes watching television or using your computer/tablet or cell phone. The blue light produced by many of these devices interrupts the natural production of melatonin, which is a hormone that assists with sleep.
Making a safe sleeping environment for your loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease, can be done by making sure that the floor is clear of objects and the medications are put away and locked up. Also, locking the doors and windows and placing a gate across the stairs can ease your mind and provide a safe environment in case your loved one awakens in the middle of the night.
A common misconception is that alcohol will help you sleep. It is true that alcohol has sedative effects, the quality of sleep is compromised because as the relaxing effects wear off, it will cause you to awaken several times in the latter half of the night.
Remember, if you are having trouble sleeping and you are feeling tired (or unable to accomplish regular your activities) for more than 2 weeks, you may have a sleep issue. Find a doctor or talk with your primary care physician about how you can get a good night’s sleep.