Sleep problems are commonly faced by many people. While there are various causes for sleep problems, they are sometimes seen more in the again population. Are sleep problems normal as we get older, is a common concern for most people. Here, we try to understand if sleep problems are normal as we get older, their causes and ways of prevention.

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Are Sleep Problems Normal As We Get Older?

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Are Sleep Problems Normal As We Get Older?

A human body starts changing the moment it takes birth in the world. Growth in hormones, cells and various other factors in a human body implies directly to its behavior, sleep and nature. A common man who is not suffering from any illness till the age of 40 may have a sleep problem, either he sleeps too much or have very scarce sleep hours. However, the problem in normal sleep pattern may occur when age increases.

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Usually older people find very difficult to fall asleep easily or suffer from hypersomnia. As we get older, the body functioning changes, there are several hormonal and other changes to which the mind and the body is adjusting. Disturbed digestion, increased urination, medical conditions, anxiety and stress all play an important role in influencing the sleep and routine in old age. Hence, it is necessary to know the causes of sleep problems as we get older and plan a routine accordingly.

What Causes Sleep Problems As We Get Older?

Some of the commonest causes, due to which sleep problems may seem normal as we get older include,

  1. Decrease in Melatonin- Brain develops melatonin hormones which reduces with age, particularly by the age of 45 and above. This is an only hormone which is responsible for sleep patterns and when it is affected a person starts feeling discomfort in sleeping. Many elderly people wake up many times at night. This is because of the scarcity in production of melatonin. This too is one of the commonest factors causing sleep problems as we get older.
  2. Alcohol Consumption- Those who are alcohol addicts often face sleep problems when they reach an age of 40 and above. During young adulthood alcohol became a catalyst for sound sleep and when alcohol consumption reduces as we get older, a sudden fall in sleep is noted. This may be because of addiction withdrawal or changes in hormones.
  3. Frequent Urination- Many elders after the age of 50 face urine issues because of various reasons ranging from diabetes to weak kidney functioning. The bladder cannot hold urine for longer period of time, eventually resulting in regular interval of urge to urinate. This is another chief reason for sleep problem as we get older.
  4. Medical Conditions – Some medical conditions in which acid reflux occurs is another cause of sleep problems as we get older, sleep disorders are very common. Depression and asthma are also a cause which older people face with sleep problems.
  5. Menopause Effects- In women above 45 years of age, hot flashes and depression becomes very common. These factors often play an important role making sleep problems common. Hence, women often face sleep problems as they get older.
  6. Restless Legs Syndrome- As we get older, restless legs syndrome is commonly experienced. This may be due to improper blood circulation, nerve problems or even leg pain. This too is one of the common causes of sleep problems as we get older.
  7. Lack of Exercise- Lack of exercise is a concern related to sleep problems as we get older. When we start growing older it is necessary to exercise to maintain effective body functioning. Exercises helps to ensure proper blood to keeps organ active, blood flow proper and brain functions prominent. So, those who avoid workout or gradual exercise often experience sleep problems. With regular exercise and physical activity during the day, the brain is able to relax giving a good sleep at night.
  8. Diet and Lifestyle - Heavy diet and improper digestion is also an important cause of sleep problems as we get older. Insomnia strikes badly to those who eat junk food, fried meals or heavy dessert items at night in dinner.

However, there are various other reasons which are becoming a chief cause of sleep problems as we get older, but it is better to consult a doctor than taking any sleeping pill or sedative to correct sleep issues.

How to Prevent Sleep Pattern Problems as We Get Older?

Sleep disorder can be a problem in any age, but sleep problems are normal as we get older. While there are many reasons for it, there are many ways to prevent them too.

  • Drink Plenty Water- Normal water at room temperature is ideal for older people in all types of weather conditions. Have water during the day to keep yourself hydrated and avoid drinking too much after dinner or before going to bed.
  • Avoid Caffeine Drinks at Night- Consume caffeinated beverages during day time to stay active at work or home, while avoiding them after evening, so that you can easily fall asleep at night. You can also drink plain warm milk at night. This can help reduce sleep problems as we get older.
  • Diet and Exercise- Modify your diet and avoid overeating, especially at dinner. Exercising at least five days a week is very helpful for older people to gain sleep at night. It is advised to take a walk and digest food before going to bed to avoid digestive problems and ensure good sleep. If you have diabetes or digestive problems, have early dinner to prevent sleep problems. Red meat is not suitable in older age as it is rich in protein and hard to digest. As it can add to digestion and sleep problems, it is best to avoid it; instead take lean meat and pack more on fruits and veggies.

Sleep problems may be normal as we get older, but you can prevent them and stay healthy. Perform exercises, eat at regular intervals and do not consume alcohol on regular interval or else sleep deprivation will become common. It is best to seek medical opinion regarding any sleep problems, effects of certain medications and lifestyle issues.

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: February 13, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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