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Insomnia in Seniors

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As you age, the quality of sleep an individual receives declines. Studies show that individuals lose 27 minutes of sleep with each decade that passes. In relation, this puts senior citizens at a higher risk for sleep disorders. This is largely due to an increased risk in psychiatric and medical disorders. Additionally, certain medications used to alleviate symptoms of geriatric medical conditions can cause sleep disturbances. The most common sleep disorder is insomnia. Which can be characterized as the persistent difficulty of one to fall or remain asleep when given the opportunity to. Individuals suffering from insomnia often experience daytime sleepiness and impaired cognitive function. These impairments are directly associated with a lack of sleep. Gracepoint Home Care comes in great handy in situations like this to helping your loved ones! When trying to get your sleeping schedule back on track a home care associate can run all the errands your loved one needs! 

Aging can disrupt our internal circadian clock and sleep wake cycle. The body cannot process the circadian signals efficiently causing sleep disruptions. These disruptions affect how long, and how well we sleep. Seniors tend to receive less sleep and are prone to waking episodes after falling asleep. Sleep latency is the amount of time it takes to fall asleep further increases with age. In addition, a normal sleep schedule is divided into four stages. The first two stages consist of light non-rapid eye movement known as NREM. The third stage is defined as a heavy or slow wave sleep of NREM. Lastly, the final stage is known as REM and consists of rapid eye movement. Polysomnographic studies have shown that seniors experience a lower percentage of NREM and REM sleep compared to younger individuals. This decrease correlates with waking episodes and how refreshed or alert one feels. 


Diagnosing and Treating Insomnia

When diagnosing insomnia you must at least report one of the following sleep problems to receive an insomnia diagnosis. 

  • Difficulty sleeping without help from a parent or caregiver
  • Repeated instance about going to sleep at a reasonable hour 
  • Difficulty falling asleep 
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Decreased energy, motivation, or initiative
  • Feeling of fatigue or malaise 

Cognitive behavioral therapy for Insomnia is called CBT-I, it is one of the effective treatments for this chronic sleeping problem. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a structured program that helps you identify and replace thoughts and behaviors that cause or worsen sleep problems with habits that promote sound sleep. The cognitive part of CBT-I teaches you too recognize and change beliefs that affect your ability to sleep. This type of therapy can help you control or eliminate negative thoughts and worries that keep you awake. Make sure to contact your doctor if you are showing signs of Insomnia.