As we welcome 2017, one of our aims for the year should be to get enough Sleep every night consistently. Some people, especially those with specific health problems, have difficulty sleeping. They lay down in the bed almost all night without losing suspending consciousness temporarily. Many of them are in their senior years.
Insomnia and other shuteye problems are usual problems associated with aging. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), 30-60 percent of American seniors have sleep complaints. Their shuteye problems extend from difficulty falling and staying asleep to waking up in the early mornings as well as too much sleepiness and fatigue at daytime.
Just like the younger generations, the elderly need seven to nine hours of sleep. But sadly, many of them sleep shallower and less than ideal. Their sleep is also often interrupted throughout the night.
Doctors point out many reasons for their sleep insufficiency, such as lowered production of and release of melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep as well as enhanced sensitivity to the changes in their environment. They also face more medical and psychiatric problems because of aging. One of the medical issues that likely disturbs their sleep, especially for women as they reach the menopausal and post-menopausal period, is hormone imbalance.
Hormone imbalance on seniors
For many senior women, sleep deprivation is fuelled by the effects of post-menopause. A study cited in the National Sleep Foundation website, post-menopausal women are less satisfied in their sleep. Experts estimate that more than half of them (61 percent) of them suffer one or more symptoms of insomnia.
The fluctuating estrogen levels in women 60 years and above results in hot flashes and night sweats, both of which may interrupt their sleep cycle. A drop in estrogen levels may also lead to sleep apnea. Moreover, the changes in their body that they had experienced during menopause may bring anxiety, stress, and depression that may affect their sleep at present.
In the case of senior men, a decline in testosterone levels can result in hot flashes and other sleep problems that senior women experience. Unlike menopause in women which is a natural process, only a fraction of this population suffer from acute andropause. But those who have this health condition can severely suffer from sleep problems such as insomnia and sleep apnea.
Tips for better sleep
If you are among the senior citizens who have slumber problems, here are some suggestions to help you get a refreshing shuteye better:
Consult your doctor. Some maintenance medicines may cause health conditions that result in sleeplessness as a side effect. Your doctor may also propose to undergo tests if you have a hormone imbalance and may prescribe hormone replacement therapy and other measures to keep your bodily functions in check.
Make mindfulness exercises and other relaxation methods a habit. There is currently too much stress and anxiety in the world that your body can handle. You need more relaxation and time for silence to make sense of this madding world. Do meditation, yoga, breathing exercises and other relaxation activities to calm your senses.
Engage in more exercise. Physical activities are crucial in maintaining your mental acumen, sleep, and overall health. Do some cardio and pump some iron. A daily exercise habit can put you to sleep faster, deeper, and longer.
Get more sunlight. The sun, being earth’s source of energy and light, is vital to our survival. Aside from getting vitamin D, exposure to sunlight signals your body to step up production and secretion of serotonin and melatonin, hormones that keep your sleep-wake cycle in regulation.
Just do not overdo it as it can cause skin cancer and other diseases. Dermatologists advise the public to avoid going outside from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the period of the day when ultraviolet rays from the sun are at its peak.
Keep your things and daily activities in order. This habit can reduce stress and anxiety, the enemies of quality sleep.
Avoid eating a heavy meal as well as drinking alcohol and coffee before bed. While this activity satisfies your appetite, it can cause indigestion that will increase your chances of waking up at night.
Sleep at the same time every day. A regular sleep and waking schedule every day will keep your circadian cycle in check.
Make your bedroom an exclusive place for sleep and sex. See to it that your room is comfortable and free from disturbances. Choose only the best bed with quality mattress such as gel memory foam mattress to avoid suffering from pain on your back and other body parts that may interrupt your sleep.
Having a restful sleep is very vital for all ages, particularly for the elderly. Take these tips as habits to ensure you enjoy more quality sleep for your longevity.
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