You never used to struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep, but ever since you retired, insomnia is more of an issue with every year that passes. You’re tired and groggy during the day but wide awake and frustrated at night. As draining as sleep problems can be, here’s the good news: you aren’t alone. Many older adults struggle with the same issue, and there are solutions to help restore your restful night’s sleep.
Are You at Risk of Elderly Insomnia?
One of the main reasons sleep problems become more common as adults age is because of the reduction in growth hormone production. This means your body releases less melatonin and you experience fewer phases of deep sleep.
Because of these hormonal changes, it’s natural to notice alterations in your sleep patterns. After all, almost 50 percent of adults over age 60 report some level of insomnia. Still, when you lose sleep, it can drastically lower your quality of life. You’re drained of energy and you want to get back to feeling lively and awake during daytime hours. What can you do?
You Can Make a Difference–Your sleep problems have a solution!
Some cases of elderly insomnia can point to an underlying health problem, such as depression or anxiety, and you may need specific treatment to resolve insomnia, one of the major symptoms. But common sleep problems are typically fixed by making changes and adapting your lifestyle to your body’s new sleep schedule.
Here are five ways you can proactively combat the sleep problems you’re experiencing due to age:
1. Exercise, But Time it Right
It doesn’t matter how old you are – everyone needs exercise. Seniors who are physically active sleep more and sleep better. You will also experience a range of additional health benefits such as lower blood pressure and stronger muscles, which reduce the risk of fall injuries.
You should get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, but you have to plan it carefully. Try to complete your workout at least four hours before bedtime so you have a chance to unwind and begin relaxing. When your heart rate is elevated it’s much more difficult to fall asleep.
2. Don’t Spend Awake Time in Bed
You can’t fall asleep so you switch on your bedroom TV to get caught up on your shows. It’s not a good plan! Make sure you use your bed for sleep and sex only so your brain associates the bedroom with sleep. Read a book and use your computer in a different room.
3. Watch What You Drink
Think about what you’re drinking before bed. Are you having caffeinated soda with dinner? Are you drinking one more cup of coffee just a little too late?
Try to limit caffeine to the early afternoon hours at the latest. Reduce your alcohol intake. It might seem like alcohol helps you fall asleep, but it only interferes with normal sleep patterns more.
4. Avoid Naps
Even if you’re groggy due to insomnia, try to avoid recovering your sleep in the daytime hours. Skip your naps in order to break the vicious cycle.
5. Discuss Your Concerns with Your Doctor
If you’ve tried these tactics and your sleep problems continue, your doctor should know. Consistent insomnia could point to an underlying health problem and it can begin to affect you negatively in multiple ways if it goes unaddressed. You may need medication to help treat your condition, and your doctor will know what’s best for you.
Are you confused about what’s covered under your current health insurance? Do you need to visit your doctor due to sleep problems and want to know which medications your drug plan will pay for?
Contact My Senior Health Plan when you need guidance choosing supplemental insurance or a new Medicare Advantage plan. We help you understand which plans cover which treatments, including treatment for sleep problems due to aging. We are here for you.