Insomnia in the elderly: the sleep cycle in the elderly

More than 50% of people in the third age suffer from some sleep disorder. And we all have in our heads the image of an elderly person who claims not to have slept a wink all night. So night after night. It is not true that grandparents do not sleep, but it is true that their sleep is less deep than in their youth. We investigate insomnia in the elderly.

Sleep in old age

  • Everything we already know about the sleep cycle, its phases, and the quality of that sleep changes as time goes by. Or age. If it is almost impossible to get a teenager who sleeps peacefully for hours and hours out of his sleep, an older person does not need more than a small noise to wake him up and prevent him from falling asleep again.
  • This occurs because with age, phases 3 and 4 of sleep, those that are deeper, become lighter, so awakenings during the night increase. In addition, the state of health of the elderly person can also influence those frequent awakenings that considerably reduce the quality of sleep. A sedentary lifestyle, various medications and incorrect sleep habits also affect sleep in older people.
  • In any case, the elderly generally need less night’s sleep. Something that is compensated with the daytime rest or the naps that are usually taken after eating. And those little naps while watching TV also help make up for a lack of sleep at night. Due to all these factors, older people need to be even more careful with their sleep hygiene if they want to avoid insomnia.

How to avoid insomnia in the elderly

  • Until now we have only taken into account the physiological factors that alter the quality of sleep in the elderly. But there is another factor, determining when it comes to insomnia in the elderly, which is loneliness. The lack of social activities is one of the main causes of depression in the elderly and, therefore, also a cause of insomnia.
  • In this way, to avoid insomnia in the elderly we must act on various fronts such as diet, physical exercise and medication control. In addition, the sedentary lifestyles of older people do not help at all to obtain the desired quality of sleep. In this case, as much activity as possible during the day is recommended in order to rest at night.

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