How come some seniors over 60 have irregular sleeping patterns?
Sleep deprivation and, in some cases insomnia, are prevalent disorders in older adults, and it’s important to cure them. The sleep disorder can affect your lifestyle, career, and even your mental health. There are various reasons due to sleep disorders, especially in older adults. Let’s check some of them out!
1. Body chemicals and hormones
As people age, the organization of chemicals and hormones production completely changes. This change can affect many sides of seniors’ lives, such as sexual life and sleep regulation. Melatonin is one of the most important hormones that release naturally in the body. Its level decreases significantly in older adults.
Anything that you do regularly and daily is a part of your lifestyle. Obviously, a healthier lifestyle, especially at older ages, helps you avoid many diseases and damages and makes everything easier to do. High-risk habits like drinking too much, smoking or an unhealthy diet not only disturb your sleep cycle but can increase the risk of heart attack, diabetes, blood pressure, and so many other disorders. So take a step back and take a good look at your lifestyle. Is it healthy enough?!
3. Medicine side effects
Insomnia and sleep disorder can be the result of certain medications. Medicines such as dopamine agonists, steroids, anticonvulsants, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors can disturb sleep regulation or intense Insomnia. So if you’re under particular medication, take your Insomnia as one of the side effects of your medicines.
4. Health issues
In so many cases, some health conditions can cause sleep deprivation. Diabetes, prostate and kidney issues, or heart failure can disturb the sleep system by waking you up to urinate several times during the night. Sometimes these issues can also take your whole energy and make you look exhausted all the time! So, it’s essential to take medication and control these diseases if you’re willing to improve your sleep cycle.
Deep sleep is one of the most refreshing levels of the sleep cycle. As you get older, the amount of growth hormone in your body drops. This occurrence leads to less deep sleep and a lowered melatonin production resulting in an irregular sleeping pattern. That’s why many people start saying that they are light sleepers as they get older. You might also prefer going to bed sooner than usual, causing you to wake up early in the morning. It’s also possible that you start taking naps during the day to make up for the lack of enough night’s sleep.
It’s normal for older adults to experience changes in the quality and duration of their sleep. Many of these happen due to changes in the body’s internal clock. A master clock in a part of the brain named the hypothalamus comprises about 20,000 cells that form the suprachiasmatic nucleus.
The suprachiasmatic nucleus regulates 24-hour daily cycles, described as circadian rhythms. These circadian rhythms change daily processes like when people get hungry, the body issues certain hormones, and when a person feels sleepy or wary. As people age, their sleep changes due to the effects of ageing. Deterioration in the function of the suprachiasmatic nucleus can interrupt circadian rhythms, influencing people to feel tired and alert.
The suprachiasmatic nucleus collects information from the eyes, and light is one of the most potent signals for maintaining circadian rhythms. Unfortunately, many older adults have inadequate exposure to daylight, averaging around one hour each day. Daylight exposure may be even more limited for people who live in nursing homes and those with Alzheimer’s disease. Alterations in the production of hormones, such as melatonin and cortisol, may also play a role in disrupted sleep. As people age, the body emits less melatonin, which is usually produced in reply to the darkness that helps promote sleep by adjusting circadian rhythms.
Sleep changes could have multiple reasons. Medication, hormonal changes, a sedentary lifestyle, and diet are the most common causes. It is highly recommended to talk to your doctor about the current medication that may cause this phenomenon.
Another reason is that our bodies produce less melatonin as we age. This hormone is the one that puts us to sleep. Some food sources like nuts and milk contain melatonin. Low physical activity is another factor. So adding simple workouts to your daily routine can be helpful.