Even The Elderly Need A Good Nights Sleep

Even The Elderly Need A Good Nights Sleep

Experts say that older Americans often have difficulty getting good night's sleep. it​ is​ a​ big quality-of-life problem, since contrary to​ popular belief, the elderly needs about the same amount of​ sleep as​ younger adults. According to​ senior research associate Dr. Harrison Bloom of​ the International Longevity Center, sleep problems together with sleeping disorders are not an​ inherent part of​ aging. in​ addition, he also said that it's pretty much of​ a​ myth that older people need less sleep than younger people.

But still, in​ a​ study published recently in​ the American Journal of​ Medicine, researchers found that more than half of​ older Americans have problems in​ getting the sleep that they need. Dr. Julie Gammack, an​ assistant professor of​ medicine in​ the Division of​ Geriatric Medicine at​ St. Louis University and also the author of​ the study said that older people tend to​ have “sleep fragmentation”, meaning they wake up more often during the night. She also added that older people seem to​ get less “REM” sleep, the type of​ sleep during which rapid eye movement occurs.

It is​ unclear what specific role these naturally occurring changes in​ sleep patterns have on a​ person's quality of​ life, but what is​ important though, is​ that older people often have actual sleep disorders and sleep problems, according to​ Dr. Bloom. in​ line with this, experts say that there is​ usually more than one case. a​ professor of​ psychiatry and behavioral sciences and associate director of​ the University of​ Washington's Northwest Geriatric Education Center Michael Vitiello said that sleep disturbance in​ older adults is​ typically associated with acute and chronic illnesses, including specific sleep disorders like sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome that appear with greater frequency in​ older populations. as​ people age, they typically develop more diseases and suffer from aches and pains. Gammack noted that these things can disrupt sleep, so what they may see as​ a​ sleep disorder may actually relate to​ the effects of​ some of​ their other medical conditions. Bloom also added that taking multiple medications, like most older people do, can also lead to​ fatigue and “hypers omnia”, or​ being tired all the time. Another big problem, Bloom notes, would be depression and anxiety, since these conditions are commonly associated with sleep problems.

But despite the prevalence of​ sleep difficulties in​ older adults, many patients are not getting the help they need. According to​ Vitiello, the average physician only receives little training regarding sleep disorders and usually does not routinely screen patients for them. This may be due to​ lack of​ time or​ training, or​ the belief that there is​ little that can be done to​ improve sleep. as​ a​ result, sleep disturbances such as​ insomnia, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, and circadian rhythm disorders are left undiagnosed and untreated.

In somehow solving the problem, an​ organization on aging, geriatrics and sleep is​ currently developing guidelines to​ promote prevention, diagnosis and treatment of​ sleep problems in​ older adults. According to​ Bloom, the reason why they are concerned with the problem, besides a​ major issue on the quality of​ life and being tired, is​ that sleep disorders are associated with hypertension, diabetes, pulmonary disease, heart disease, depression, and anxiety. a​ cause and effect relationship has yet to​ be established between sleep disorders and these chronic health conditions, but Bloom suggests that they contribute to​ each other.

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