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SENIOR LIVING: Achieving quality sleep can be a challenge as you age
By: Mark Underwood
If your sleep patterns are changing as you grow older, you’re not alone. As we age, we experience many age-related differences like difficulty sleeping through the night without constantly waking up. For others, they may sleep for a few hours, but it is always hard to get back to sleep. It’s one thing to know that sleep is essential to our mental and physical health at any age, but achieving quality sleep, on a regular basis, is a challenge for many older adults.
Quality sleep is a basic maintenance measure. Sleep keeps things humming, similar to routine oil changes that keep your car’s engine running well. Sleep is not only necessary to recharge the body--it is now considered crucial to good brain health.
sleeplessness for clues
Many variables contribute to poor sleep ranging from diet to daily exercise. You can improve the quality of sleep and overall wellbeing but first you have to understand what’s contributing to poor sleep. As millions of people grow older, many experience age-related sleeping patterns because their days (and minds) are crowded with anxiety and stress.
There are several common factors that contribute to poor sleep. Insomnia in older adults can be caused by many chronic conditions such as arthritis when pain and discomfort may prevent the body from getting needed rest. Sleep apnea is another health problem not uncommon in older adults. This is a serious health concern that disrupts sleep repeatedly throughout the night. Another common concern is Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) where a person’s legs and arms feel agitated and make it difficult to fall asleep.
People who suffer from these or other underling conditions are often getting a poor night’s sleep. This is obviously an uncomfortable sleep-and-wake cycle for anyone of any age, but it is especially difficult for older adults. Fortunately, many of the common factors that contribute to poor sleep can be addressed and treated.
Take these steps to reduce fatigue and a lack of sleep that takes its toll on your body.
•Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day
•Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and drink plenty of water
•Find structured ways to relax. Yoga is a good example.
•Maintain a balanced schedule at work and home
•Resolve stressful circumstances
•Discuss with your doctor what is best for you.
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