Along with the physical changes that occur as we get older, changes to our sleep patterns are a part of the normal ageing process. As people age, they tend to have a harder time falling asleep and more trouble staying asleep than when they were younger. It is a common misconception that sleep needs decline with age.
Around 4 in 10 older people have at least a 30-minute nap every day. Most people over the age of 80 nap for more than one hour each day (The Sleep Health Foundation, 2019). Additionally, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men take up to half an hour to fall asleep, above the average of 15 minutes. This results in waking up more often and spending less time in deep, refreshing sleep.
Changes in our Sleep behaviour
As we get older, the hormones that help us sleep are released earlier in the day. Some older adults may feel sleepy earlier than they used to and they make wake up in the early hours of the morning. Pain may also make it difficult to stay in one position for the whole night. After retirement, many people find it convenient to take a short nap during the day, which can reduce the need for sleep at night (The Sleep Health Foundation, 2019).
Medical Conditions interference
Many conditions can make it harder to sleep. Some that are common in older people are arthritis, osteoporosis, Parkinson’s, indigestion, heart disease and lung diseases such as asthma or COPD. The drugs used to treat these conditions may also interfere with sleep (Vitiello, 2019). Anxiety and depression can both interfere with nodding off to sleep as well as cause wakefulness during the night. Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can make sleep worse. Two-thirds of nursing home residents have problems with their sleep (Vitiello, 2019). Sleep problems tend to increase when there is not enough exercise or interesting activities during the day or people go to bed too early.
Sleep routines, daytime activity and sunshine all help sleep increase the likeliness of a healthy night’s sleep. Try to go to bed at about the same time every night and get out of bed about the same time every morning to strengthen your body clock’s sleep-wake rhythm (Vitiello, 2019). Ensure any afternoon naps are only 15-20 minutes long to avoid any night time sleep interference.
Treatment for more serious sleep problems depend on the cause, so the issue has to be diagnosed before treatment commences. Talking to a doctor about sleeping problems is important. You might need a referral to see a sleep specialist. There are a variety of effective treatments available for snoring, sleep apnea, restless legs, insomnia and other common sleep problems (The Sleep Health Foundation, 2019).
At Sleepy’s we support sleep health and want to share the power of sleep with as many people as possible, to help our community reclaim their amazing with a rejuvenating night’s sleep. Our Chiro collection of mattresses are designed to support your spinal and health needs. Reach out to your local Sleepy’s manager to discuss how we can find the perfect mattress to suit your individual needs.