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Insomnia
Sleep Apnea
Sleep Health

Wny Can't I Fall Asleep?

According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), older adults need about the same amount of sleep as young adults—7 to 9 hours each night. But there are a number of reasons why they may not get enough sleep. Here, from the experts at NIA, is close look at the problem, why it happens and what you can do about:

There are many reasons why older people may not get enough sleep at night. Feeling sick or being in pain can make it hard to sleep. Napping during the day can disrupt sleep at night. Some medicines can keep you awake. No matter the reason, if you don’t get a good night’s sleep, the next day you may:  be irritable; have memory problems or be forgetful; feel depressed; have more falls or accidents; or feel very sleepy during the day.

Insomnia is the most common sleep problem in adults age 60 and older. People with insomnia have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. Insomnia can last for days, months, or even years. If you’re having trouble sleeping, you may: take a long time to fall asleep;  wake up many times in the night; wake up early and be unable to get back to sleep; wake up tired; feel very sleepy during the day

There are many causes of insomnia. Some of them you can control, but others you can’t. For example, if you are excited about a new activity or worrying over your bills, you may have trouble sleeping. Sometimes insomnia may be a sign of other problems. Or, it could be a side effect of a medication or an illness.

Often, being unable to sleep becomes a habit. Some people worry about not sleeping even before they get into bed. This may make insomnia even worse.

Some older adults who have trouble sleeping use over-the-counter sleep aids. Using prescription medicines for a short time might help. But remember, medicines aren’t a cure for insomnia. Developing healthy habits at bedtime may help you get a good night’s sleep.

Sleep apnea is another serious sleep disorder. A person with sleep apnea has short pauses in breathing while sleeping. These pauses may happen many times during the night. If not treated, sleep apnea can lead to other problems such as high blood pressure, stroke, or memory loss.

You can have sleep apnea and not even know it. But your loud snoring and gasping for air can keep other people awake. Feeling sleepy during the day and being told you are snoring loudly at night could be signs that you have sleep apnea.

If you think you have sleep apnea, see a doctor who knows about this sleep problem. You may need to learn to sleep in a position that keeps your airways open. Sometimes a medical device called Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP), a dental device, or surgery can help.

Movement Disorders such as restless legs syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder, and rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder are common in older adults. These movement disorders can rob you of needed sleep.

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