Insomnia is a problem in human life. It worsens his health throughout the day, contributes to the development of chronic diseases. In relation to children and adults, such a disorder is perceived as a pathology. In older people, it does not seem to be dangerous. And this is wrong.
The percentage of people with sleep disorders after age 65 is steadily increasing. Given the weakened body of the elderly and a predisposition to a number of diseases, disturbed sleep impairs brain function and can become a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
Relatives caring for the older generation often ask themselves the question: “What to do if grandfather or grandmother does not sleep at night?” There is no universal answer and will not be. The way to restore the normal regime depends on the cause and type of insomnia the person has.
Chronic pathology does not form in a few days. Its development takes place gradually, months and years.
As a rule, sleep problems are caused by a decrease in the production of melatonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for the correct sleep and wakefulness of a person. But for what reason such a disorder arose, it will be necessary to find out.
Sleep disturbances are not accidental, the main causes of insomnia in older people, men and women over 60, are:
- Stressful states. The experiences typical of people in years in the evening, before going to bed, often negatively affect the functions of the nervous system.
- Snoring, nocturnal breathing problems, seizures.
- Excessive excess weight and a sedentary lifestyle.
- Bad habits. Alcohol abuse.
- Lack of sleep hygiene. Incorrect, uncomfortable bed, constant background noise (for example, from a working TV), light, lack of evening ventilation.
- Chronic diseases affecting the respiratory system or accompanied by pain.
- Mental and psychological problems. Depression and mental illness should be treated under medical supervision. And the psychological instability, fears about the future, can be dispelled by loved ones.
- Taking medications that provoke insomnia. In this case, it is necessary to inform the attending physician about the side effect so that he changes the dosage regimen or prescribes another remedy.
- Little sunlight, vitamin D deficiency. It is recommended to spend more time in the sun or take special medications.
Often, a chronic condition is provoked by several reasons at the same time. For example, high blood pressure with hypertensive encephalopathy and medication that interferes with sleep.
Types of insomnia in the elderly
To decide what to do if an elderly person does not sleep at night, you need to figure out what form of insomnia developed in old age.
There are three pathology options that are most typical for such patients:
- Hypersomnia – a person needs a long period of sleep, sleeps 12-20 hours a day. And even after such a long period of rest, the surge of strength and vivacity does not come. The patient wakes up irritated, tired. Hypersomnia is characteristic of people who are constantly exposed to stress and are depressed.
- Insomnia – difficulty falling asleep or its complete impossibility. Even after a person falls asleep, he cannot rest. Sleep is extremely restless, short, fragmentary, often accompanied by nightmares. As a rule, accumulated stress becomes the cause of the condition. The psychotherapist should think over the treatment regimen.
- Parasomnia is a sleep phase change disorder. A person wakes up several times during the night, but full awakening does not occur. A similar phenomenon occurs with nocturnal epilepsy, sleepwalking. Requires consultation of a neurologist.
Only by understanding why old elderly people sleep little and poorly can one choose the right treatment. Smart therapy will improve their health and sleep.
In order to determine what to take for insomnia in old age in the elderly and how to get rid of this painful condition, the collection of symptoms plays a significant role at the first visit to the doctor.
The peculiarities of the course of the disease will help to understand what additional examination is required and what treatment will be effective.
Symptoms of insomnia in the elderly:
- Intermittent difficulty falling asleep. Even in the dark and relaxed state, sleep does not come for hours.
- More frequent nightmares that cause earlier awakening in an agitated state with a feeling of fear, disgust, regret. In this case, the pulse accelerates, blood pressure often rises.
- Superficial sleep. Increased sensitivity, frequent awakening at night from the slightest noise, inability to fall asleep after it.
- A standard 8 hour nap does not bring any rest. The person is haunted by the desire to either sleep longer, or during the day he experiences fatigue and drowsiness.
Each of these signs, which happened once, is not a cause for concern. However, if the patient regularly experiences these symptoms, it is necessary to see a doctor.
To understand what to do, what treatment to use, it is required to determine the causes of senile insomnia.
The first method that is used to diagnose a patient’s condition is a survey.
The doctor finds out the symptoms of the process, determines the accompanying problems that arise. The person is asked what diseases he has.
Neurological examination is mandatory.
After that, testing is carried out on the Epworth scale. A person is asked to answer questions related to the characteristics of his sleep. Based on the information received, points are assigned and the level of the problem is determined .
After undergoing preliminary diagnostics, the patient is redirected to instrumental studies, consultations by doctors of a related profile to determine the specific cause of his condition.
Then, when doctors determine why the elderly person is awake at night, they can develop a plan to restore sleep.
How to treat insomnia in old age, what methods of combating and preventing such a condition in older people will be effective, should be decided by a professional doctor after a thorough diagnosis. Depending on the results, a therapy regimen will be selected.
For the treatment of sleep disorders, as a secondary symptom of a third-party disease, the root cause, the disease that led to the dyssomnia, is first treated. Having received the result, they begin to get rid of the symptoms.
When the reduction in sleep time is due to age-related changes in the brain, doctors try not to resort to drastic methods, advising preventive measures and mild corrective procedures.
In some cases, insomnia in old age in people, equally, men and women, has reasons that require drug treatment. When prescribing drugs, the doctor is guided by several rules:
- Selection of a drug with suitable pharmacological effects.
- Appointment of small therapeutic doses.
- Short-term courses of drug use (up to 1 month).
- Therapy should be intermittent. You can not use the drug more than 2-3 times a week.
- The gradual withdrawal of hypnotic drugs through dose reduction.
- Close monitoring of the patient’s condition before taking medications and after discontinuation, during follow-up examinations.
When prescribing therapy, it is extremely important to take into account what other medications a person is taking, what chronic diseases he suffers, so as not to worsen the general well-being.
Due to these features, self-medication with hypnotics is highly discouraged .
Preventing Poor Sleep in Older People
Sleep disorders in old and senile people do not always require complex treatment. Often, the problem, if not resolved, then becomes less acute.
We suggest following a few rules to help you get healthy sleep:
- Monitor the diet, make the evening meal lighter and push back from the time of falling asleep by 2-3 hours.
- Reduce your intake of caffeinated beverages and avoid them in the afternoon.
- Stop drinking alcohol, nicotine and other stimulants.
- Use orthopedic pillows and a mattress for a comfortable and safe sleep.
- Ventilate the bedroom regularly before bed, even during the winter season.
- Introduce more physical activity into the daily regimen, preferably in the second half of the day.
- Reduce TV viewing time in the evenings by taking short walks.
And remember: the question: “How to overcome insomnia in old age?” Is solved individually each time.