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Tips for Coping with Insomnia in the Elderly

Elderly people can suffer from insomnia for a variety of reasons. Getting to the bottom of the cause of the complaint can help them understand how to treat their condition and get a better nights rest. It’s important for aged individuals who lack sleep to first visit a healthcare professional to help them evaluate the possible cause of their insomnia in case they have a medical complaint which requires treatment that’s at the root of the problem, or they need to change medication if insomnia is a side effect.

There are other potential causes of insomnia however which don’t generally require the assistance of a doctor. Recognizing them and taking steps to overcome the difficulty can lead to elderly individuals developing more efficient sleeping patterns.

One of the reasons the elderly don’t tend to get a good nights sleep is that they don’t follow the same sleeping rhythm as younger people. They are naturally light sleepers and prone to waking up in the night now and then. When restless sleep or a total lack of it becomes more severe action can be taken to alleviate the problem.

Depression is a major cause of insomnia in the elderly. Isolation, a sense of helplessness or a variety of other emotional anxieties can result in difficulty sleeping. Elderly individuals will know if this is a potential cause of their insomnia if they present symptoms relating to depression.

Signs of depression are staying awake while worrying and turning over troubles, feeling lethargic and sad, and not experiencing pleasure from activities which used to give joy anymore and a sense of hopelessness and despair. If an elderly person has these symptoms, or some of them, they may need help to overcome depression before they can sleep better. Counselling, antidepressants, and social contact are just a few examples of what may be helpful to them.

Elderly individuals who regularly catnap throughout the day are unlikely to be able to sleep properly at night, especially if they don’t get sufficient exercise. Exercising during the day and refraining from too many naps can sometimes solve the problem.

Many elderly people take medication for various disorders. Unfortunately some medicines come with side effects which can make sleeping difficult. The possible side effects of most medications can be found in an accompanying leaflet to packaging, or will be listed on a products bottle. By reading such information the elderly can get an idea as to whether this may be the cause of their insomnia, and then request medication change from their doctor if it seems likely.

Sometimes it isn’t the side effects of medication being taken by the elderly which cause their insomnia. Instead it’s a disease or particular illness they suffer from. The pain of osteoarthritis for example can leave elderly individuals unable to sleep. If pain or discomfort is the reason for a lack of sleep healthcare professionals should be able to give advice about the best course of action to alleviate the situation.

Nights spent awake and alone can seem long and tedious to elderly individuals, leaving them feeling tired and anxious during the day. By working out the reason for their insomnia, elderly people can find a solution to implement.