Most of us have a restless night once in a while, but the inability to sleep can be a serious problem for everyone – including seniors. In order to maintain our health and well-being, we need continuous, uninterrupted sleep. We need it to feel refreshed and to restore energy. There are a number of different reasons that seniors might be unable to get the sleep that they need, and we will discuss a few of the most important ones.
Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
Imagine a sleep disorder where you have an irresistible urge to move your legs, this is what RLS means. When seniors rest, (when sitting for prolonged periods or lying down in bed) they have the urge to move their legs for no real reason. One of the reasons that RLS makes it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep is because it typically occurs in the evening. This is often associated with problems with concentration, irritability, and daytime sleepiness.
During this potentially serious sleep disorder, the senior’s breathing is interrupted as they are sleeping. Those who have sleep apnea stop breathing as they sleep several times a night. There are two different types of sleep apnea: central and obstructive sleep apnea.
- Central sleep apnea (CSA) – During CSA, the brain does not tell the body to breathe, meaning that the airway itself is not blocked. Because it is related to the function of the central nervous system, it is often called central apnea. A few of the symptoms include trouble concentrating, gasping for air while sleeping, restlessness during sleep, fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and snoring.
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – This is the most commons of the two forms of apnea. Oftentimes the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses as seniors’ sleep, which causes a blockage of the airway.
With insomnia, you might have difficulty falling or staying asleep. The following symptoms might be indicative of someone dealing with insomnia
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Waking up too early in the morning
- Waking up during the night and not being able to fall back asleep
- Difficulty falling asleep
Different people suffer different bouts with insomnia, including how often it occurs and how long it lasts.
Remember that everyone is different, and some seniors can function on less sleep than others can. Seniors might simply need less sleep if they feel rested and energetic throughout the day on six hours of sleep at night. If you find that your lack of sleep is affecting you in a negative way, it is always a good idea to tell your doctor.