Now as a manufacturer of luxury bed linens, we think that a great set of Italian sheets will aid in a better nights sleep, but here are some of the contributors to changes that may occur as you age.
Along with the physical changes that occur as we get older, changes to our sleep patterns are a part of the normal aging process.
As people age they tend to have a harder time falling asleep and more trouble staying asleep than when they were younger. It is a common misconception that sleep needs decline with age.
In fact, research demonstrates that our sleep needs remain constant throughout adulthood. So, what's keeping seniors awake?
Many older adults, though certainly not all, also report being less satisfied with sleep and more tired during the day.
Studies on the sleep habits of older Americans show an increase in the time it takes to fall asleep (sleep latency), an overall decline in REM sleep, and an increase in sleep fragmentation (waking up during the night) with age.
The prevalence of sleep disorders also tends to increase with age. However, research suggests that much of the sleep disturbance among the elderly can be attributed to physical and psychiatric illnesses and the medications used to treat them.
In addition to changes in sleep architecture that occur as we age, other factors affecting sleep are the circadian rhythms that coordinate the timing of our bodily functions, including sleep.
For example, older people tend to become sleepier in the early evening and wake earlier in the morning compared to younger adults. This pattern is called advanced sleep phase syndrome. The sleep rhythm is shifted forward so that 7 or 8 hours of sleep are still obtained but the individuals will wake up extremely early because they have gone to sleep quite early.
The reason for these changes in sleep and circadian rhythms as we age is not clearly understood. Many researchers believe it may have to do with light exposure and treatment options for advanced sleep phase syndrome typically include bright light therapy.
The prevalence of insomnia is also higher among older adults.
For instance, cutting back on caffeine and napping may help solve the problem. If insomnia is creating serious effects, complicating other conditions or making a person too tired to function normally during their waking hours, this would suggest that it is important to seek treatment. When effects are serious and untreated, insomnia can take a toll on a person's health.
People with insomnia can experience excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and increased risk for accidents and illness as well as significantly reduced quality of life.
Both behavioral therapies and prescription medications singly or in combination are considered effective means to treat insomnia; the proper choice should be matched to a variety of factors in discussion with a physician.
Snoring is the primary cause of sleep disruption for approximately 90 million American adults; 37 million on a regular basis.
Snoring is most commonly associated with persons who are overweight and the condition often becomes worse with age.
Loud snoring is particularly serious as it can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and is associated with high blood pressure and other health problems. With OSA, breathing stops - sometimes for as long as 10-60 seconds - and the amount of oxygen in the blood drops, often to very low. This alerts the brain, causing a brief arousal (awakening) and breathing resumes.
These stoppages of breathing can occur repeatedly, causing multiple sleep disruptions throughout the night and result in excessive daytime sleepiness and impaired daytime function.
Untreated sleep apnea puts a person at risk for cardiovascular disease, headaches, memory loss and depression. It is a serious disorder that is easily treated. If you experience snoring on a regular basis and it can be heard from another room or you have been told you stop breathing or make loud or gasping noises during your sleep, these are signs that you might have sleep apnea and it should be discussed with your doctor.
Restless legs syndrome (RLS) is a neurological movement disorders characterized by an irresistible urge to move the limbs.
As we age, there is an increased incidence of medical problems, which are often chronic.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is another common cause of sleep problems.
The above information is a re-print of the artcle published by the National Sleep Foundation. http://sleepfoundation.org/content/nsf-official-sleep-diary
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