How Sleep Patterns Change as You Age

Sleep is one of the most essential aspects of overall health. Afterall, we do spend about one-third of our life asleep. Sleep is needed to concentrate and memorize information. It also allows for our cells to rejuvenate and for our immune system to refresh. Lack of sleep, therefore, results in a plethora of different issues. Conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity can be exacerbated due to sleeping issue. Lack of sleep also puts one at greater risk for depression and anxiety. 

Throughout the aging process, sleep patterns tend to differ. This can be attributed to lifestyle, some health conditions, and hormone changes. Many seniors may notice that they want to sleep earlier and wake up earlier than they are used to. This mostly can be attributed to the decreased levels of melatonin as one gets older. Melatonin is the hormone that tells your body it is tired when it is dark. Since there is less melatonin in the body, one may have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep at night and may end up taking sporadic naps during the day due to extreme fatigue. 

Health conditions such as diabetes and prostate issues may cause sleep disturbances from the excessive urge to urinate. Chronic kidney disease and congestive heart failure may make it hard to lay in certain positions that are normally comfortable for you. Another very common condition that heavily disrupts sleep is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition that can cause you to stop breathing for a short amount of time and cause you to wake up. This may happen up to a few hundred times in the span of one night and make having a restful sleep almost impossible. These are only a few of the health conditions that lack of sleep can be attributed to.

Here are a few tips to try to help with sleep disruptions:

  1. Ask a doctor if any medications are causing the issue.
  2. Avoid alcohol and nicotine overall if possible. If not, avoid it at night a few hours before sleep.
  3. Stay on a schedule of sleeping and waking.
  4. Avoid caffeine 8 hours before bedtime.
  5. Do not take naps longer than 20 minutes.
  6. Do not use phone or other electronics for 30 minutes before bedtime. 
  7. Exercise every day.

If you or your loved one are having a difficult time getting a good night’s rest, please contact your primary care doctor. WellPath Partners can help connect you with resources for all your senior health needs. Follow us on ALL social media platforms for more content and public health discussions.

By Leila Lagandaon

Placement Coordination Supervisor at WellPath Partners

B.S. in Health Science, California State University Long Beach

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