Insomnia

Insomnia is a condition of unsatisfactory sleep. It increases in both men and women as they get older. There are two types of insomnia primary and secondary. Primary insomnia is when insomnia occurs when no other illness or secondary cause is identified while secondary insomnia is when it occurs as a symptom of or is associated with other conditions.

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The causes of insomnia include poor sleep hygiene, a poor sleep environment, a disturbed sleep routine, movement disorders (e.g. Parkinson’s), respiratory and cardiac disorders, pain, Nocturia, sweats, drug withdrawal, and some drugs (for example benzodiazepine misuse, antidepressants). Other causes may be the concern about wakefulness, temporary problems, anxiety or depression, sleep apnoea, other illnesses, and stimulants.

If you go to your doctor thinking that you will be prescribed a sleeping pill don’t be surprised if they don’t because the Committee on Safety of Medicine think that hypnotic drugs should be avoided in the elderly.

The amount of sleep that you need to perform your best decreases as you get older. Many people in the 70s sleep less than 6 hours of sleep a night.

However it depends on the person because some people need less sleep than others. Older people also wake up more during the night than younger people do. Scientists don’t know the reason why older people need less sleep, but they think it might have to do with changes in hormone levels or other changes of the brain.

Tips

  • Don’t nap during the day.
  • Don’t drink caffeine, alcohol, or smoke late at night.
  • Don’t do physical or mental activity before bed.
  • Don’t use a computer before bed as it may delay sleep onset.
  • Do regular daily exercise.
  • Don’t look at the clock if you wake up in the night because it could make you frustrated and therefore delay sleep onset.
  • Get up at the same time each day.
  • People over the age of 65 who sleep 8 or 9 hours a day are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

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Did you know?

* “Prevalence is between 1.5 and 2 times higher in women than in men.”

* “About 30% of patients with primary insomnia will improve with sleep hygiene (general ways to help sleep better) advice alone.”

* “A study found that, of eight hours spent in bed, people in their 20s slept for an average of 7 hours and 14 minutes. That fell to 6 hours and 50 minutes for those in their 40s and 50s, and fell again for the over 65s, who slept for an average of just 6 hours and 30 minutes.”