In the elderly community, sleep disturbances are frequently underdiagnosed and are a major cause for concern. A significant portion of the senior population may experience sleep difficulties due to a variety of different circumstances. Retirement, health issues, the death of a spouse or family member, and changes in circadian rhythm are a few of them. Although many of these disturbances may be connected to disease processes that are not generally accepted as typical parts of ageing, changes in sleep patterns may be a natural aspect of the ageing process.
Sleep problems are common in older adults. The amount of sleep needed stays constant throughout the adult years. Doctors recommend that adults get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. In older adults, sleep is less deep and choppier than sleep in younger people.
A healthy 70-year-old may wake up several times during the night without it being due to disease. Sleep disturbances in older adults may be due to any of the following:
- Alzheimer disease
- Changes in the body’s natural internal clock, causing some people to fall asleep earlier in the evening
- Long-term (chronic) disease, such as heart failure
- Certain medicines, herbs, supplements, and recreational drugs
- Depression (depression is a common cause of sleep problems in people of all ages)
- Brain and nervous system conditions
- Not being very active
- Pain caused by diseases such as arthritis
- Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine
- Frequent urination at night
It’s common for our sleeping habits to change naturally as we get older, such as getting tired earlier, waking up earlier, or getting less deep sleep. However, insomnia symptoms such as restless sleep, excessive daytime fatigue, and others are not a typical aspect of ageing. Your physical and emotional wellbeing are just as vital to sleep as they were when you were younger.
Following are some Important Diseases that we have identified for elderly people
POOR SLEEP SCHEDULE
Poor sleep habits are a very common cause of sleep disruption. Irregular sleep-wake patterns related to lifestyle or work requirements can undermine the ability of the circadian system to effectively provide sleepiness and wakefulness at appropriate times. Caffeine intake can continue to have alerting effects for many hours. Consumption of caffeine-containing beverages in the afternoon can impair nighttime sleep. Alcohol consumption in the evening, while initially sedating, prevents deeper sleep and increases arousals during the latter part of the night. Excessive wakeful time in bed may cause the patient to develop increased arousal that is reinforced nightly.
Many medications can have stimulating effects and thereby cause sleep disruption. Included among them are some antidepressants (particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), decongestants, bronchodilators, some antihypertensives and corticosteroids. Predictably, nighttime use of diuretics can promote repeated awakening to go to the bathroom. The potential sedating effects of medications (especially long-acting sedatives that are inappropriately used as sleep aids) should also be a consideration in patients who report excessive daytime sleepiness.
Distress from acute symptoms of a psychiatric disorder may promote disturbed sleep. A classic example is insomnia in association with major depression. The tendency toward increased arousals and early-morning awakening in an elderly person may be severely exacerbated in the presence of depression. Also contributing to a deterioration in the quality of sleep are the psychologic manifestations of the assorted life changes that elderly persons often experience. Significant factors include physical limitations, loss of loved ones and leaving a familiar home to live in a more supervised setting.
RESTLESSNESS LEG SYNDROME
This condition causes sensations of itching, crawling, or restlessness as a person is trying to fall asleep. The symptoms are unpleasant but not usually painful, and improve with movement. The exact biological underpinnings of this problem remain poorly understood, but it seems to be related to dopamine and iron levels in the brain. Most cases are not not thought to be related to neurodegeneration.