Sleep Problems in Seniors Worsen: How They Can Be Treated

The use of smartphones and watching shows or movies on screens before bedtime also affects the sleep of older adults.

Sleep disorders are considered one of the severe and prevalent problems that afflict seniors, significantly impacting their daily lives and potentially leading to various subsequent health issues if left unaddressed. Regular and quality sleep is crucial for maintaining overall human health.

According to a report published by the specialized medical website "Happiest Health," which was reviewed by "Alarabiya Net," sleep problems in seniors are a major cause of concern, as noted by geriatric doctors.

As per the report, health experts suggest that seniors should address disrupted sleep patterns due to reduced deep sleep in the Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) phase caused by brain sluggishness. Non-Rapid Eye Movement decreases by 2% every decade.

Dr. Mangunath Es, a consultant in interventional pulmonary diseases at (BGS) International Hospitals, states, "This is a natural physiological phenomenon, there is no cause for alarm." He further adds that a decrease in melatonin occurs as we age, resulting in lower levels of this hormone.

External factors can also disrupt sleep routines. Dr. Lenny da Costa, a geriatric medicine specialist and preventive heart physician in Mumbai, points out some reasons that lead to disruptions in circadian rhythms, explaining, "As people age, they tend to sleep lightly, making them more sensitive to their environment." He notes, "If they are exposed to noise during sleep, they will immediately feel disturbed, making it difficult for them to fall back asleep."

The cause of insomnia in seniors is attributed to a multitude of medical conditions, with Dr. Mangunath emphasizing insomnia as the prevalent causal factor.

He explains, "Insomnia either keeps them awake all night or causes them to sleep excessively during the day." He adds, "It affects their mood, making them feel irritable and lethargic."

Doctors also point out that sleep apnea due to airway obstruction can lead to suffocation or coughing, consequently causing interrupted sleep.

Dr. Di Sujanya, senior pulmonologist at Kamineni Hospitals in Hyderabad, Pakistan, states, "Obstructive sleep apnea is a result of obesity, which leads to the loss of muscle tone around the neck, causing spasms or airway constriction during sleep. At the same time, central sleep apnea prevents the brain from sending signals to control breathing, leading to heart failure in some cases."

Doctors also highlight that gastrointestinal health problems can lead to nocturnal sleep disturbances, as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can cause discomfort during sleep. Dr. Mangunath explains, "Relaxation of the lower esophageal region will cause acid reflux, leading to stomach discomfort."

Urinary incontinence in women and prostate enlargement in men are also cited as causes of sleep disruption in seniors, as they may wake up from sleep to urinate.

According to a report from "Happiest Health," using smartphones and watching shows or movies on screens before bedtime also affects the sleep of older adults.

Dr. da Costa emphasizes that individuals should refrain from any form of device use for at least an hour and a half before bedtime. He adds, "Using devices at night prevents you from sleeping because they disturb the pineal gland, which has a greater impact on melatonin production and disrupts the regulation of circadian rhythms."

Dr. Costa confirms that regular exercise can boost endorphin levels in the body, providing deep sleep for the individual.

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