April 24 to April 29, 2017 is Sleep Awareness Week. We need between 7-8 hours of sleep every night. As people age, their sleep patterns may change, but older adults still have the same requirements for sleep as younger people.
Older people tend to nap more, get sleepier early in the evening, and wake up earlier in the morning. These habits make it more difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Also, older adults may wake up more often to go to the bathroom. They may also have heartburn, arthritis, menopause or cancer which may cause pain or discomfort. Lung disease and heart failure can also make it harder to sleep. Stress can also impact the amount of sleep a person can get each night.
Why we need sleep:
- Body and brain need rest
- Prepares body for the next day
- The brain has time to sort and store information, replace chemicals, and solve problems
Signs of Insomnia:
- Waking up tired
- Waking up many times during the night
- Waking up early and being unable to get back to sleep
- Taking a long time…longer that 30-45 minute………to fall asleep
Lack of sleep can cause:
- Depressed mood
- Attention and memory problems
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- More nighttime falls
- To use more over the counter or prescription sleep aids
- Low energy
- Problems thinking and doing things
- Delayed response time
- Car accidents
- Unable to complete normal tasks after 2 days without sleep
- Hallucinations after 5 days without sleep
Tips for a good night sleep:
- Establish a ritual for bedtime: for example brushing teeth, washing face
- Set a schedule: go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every am, even on weekends.
- Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature.
- Avoid eating or drinking alcohol or caffeine right before going to bed.
- Exercise: try to get 20-30 min/day at least 5-6 hours before bedtime.