Avoiding Sleep Disturbances in The Elderly

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There may be many causes for disturbed sleep in an elderly individual and many of these causes can be altered by simple medications or life style adjustments. But, in certain instances, the cause for such disturbance may not be apparent or may be due to a more serious disease process which may not be controlled to such simple measures.

When considering some of the common causes for sleep disturbances in the elderly, chronic pain conditions, congestive type of heart failures, depression, the need to pass urine during the night at a higher frequency, certain medications, consuming stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol…etc, certain neurological problems and general environmental condition can be named as few.

Therefore, the avoidance of sleep disturbances would mean than these elements need to be controlled and there are several ways of doing this in elderly individuals.

Take pain relievers for chronic pain conditions such as arthritis just prior to sleeping in the night and take your doctors advice in taking these medications for a long time without acquiring side effects such as gastritis which may lead to sleep disturbances itself. Avoid consuming large amounts of water or taking ‘water pills’ closer to the sleeping time as it can keep a person awake due to increased frequency of needing to pass urine. Do not consume alcohol, caffeine or take a heavy meal just prior to going to sleep. Prepare a quiet surrounding and a pleasant environment for an elderly person to sleep Avoid taking naps during the day time Make use of a schedule in going to bed for sleep as well as for awaking in the morning which will make the body adapt to these timings. Undertake exercises early in the morning rather than in the late afternoons. Undertake treatment for conditions such as depression.

When these measures are applied to the lifestyle of an elderly person, it would be effective in most instances where sleep disturbance is a problem. But, if it does not show relief to such measures, seeking professional support would be advisable as it may be early signs of a more serious underlying problem.

Lastly, it should also be remembered that, elderly persons would require relatively less number of sleeping hours than would a younger person would require but at the same time, they will go into a deeper sleep during that short sleep than would a younger person achieve. Therefore, early morning awakening among elderly individuals might not be an abnormal manifestation after all and adjusting the times at which the person goes to sleep might be the only thing that is required in such instances.


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