It is recommended by the National Sleep Foundation that seniors over the age of 65 aim for seven to eight hours of sleep, but for many seniors that goal is hard to attain. Many of us find it difficult to fall asleep or even stay asleep, so by the time we wake up we are tired and groggy and running on low energy.
The National Sleep Foundation reported that 71 percent of individuals aged 50 to 64 experience some sleep problems. This means sleep issues are not merely age-specific conditions, but can start early on, too.
Here are five common sleep problems you may encounter with each passing year.
You fall asleep and wake up earlier
No matter how hard you try, you simply can’t stay up anymore. Worse yet, this causes you to wake up earlier. When we are in our 20s, our circadian rhythm is delayed, meaning we are “programmed” to stay awake and sleep in. As we get older, this rhythm changes, so we fall asleep earlier and are more alert earlier as well.
You wake up frequently throughout the night
Not staying asleep is a common sleep problem with age, and researchers suggest this has to do with changes in brain waves. By the time we hit 50, restorative brain waves do not spike as high as they did when we were younger, which means we can wake up much easier.
Napping can combat this, but be mindful – too much napping can disrupt your circadian rhythm, so save it for those days when you are really drained.
Nearly 53 percent of seniors have to urinate during the night hours, and this urge is increasing with each passing year. Nighttime urination could be a natural sign of aging, or it could signal a health issue like diabetes or a prostate problem. If nighttime urination is keeping you awake, speak to your doctor about your options.
Snoring doesn’t necessarily mean you are in a deep sleep. In fact, it could signal obstructive sleep apnea – a sleep disorder in which the person stops breathing momentarily numerous times a night. The good news is, your doctor can confirm a diagnosis of sleep apnea through a sleep test and prescribe a CPAP device, which helps prevent the stoppage of breathing.
You are at high risk for restless leg syndrome (RLS)
As you age, your risk of restless leg syndrome increases. This is a condition in which the legs are restless and feel as if they need to be in motion due to tingling or crawling sensations. There is still much to uncover about RLS, but speak to your doctor if you suspect you have the condition, as there are treatment options that may help.
If you wake up and are still tired that could be a sign that you have sleep apnea. Over 12 million Americans have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which has already been linked to hypertension, heart attack, traffic accidents, and depression. Individuals with sleep apnea experience paused breathing numerous times throughout the night disrupting their sleep, thus contributing to daytime tiredness. Continue reading…
A new study suggests that poor sleep doesn’t impact cholesterol levels. The exception to the findings was seen in individuals who take sleeping pills to treat insomnia. Researchers have believed that insomnia increased the risk of heart disease due to factors like high cholesterol as it has been seen in sleep apnea. Continue reading…