Many older adults believe that sleep problems are just part of getting older but this is a myth which is being exposed on World Sleep Day – 15 March 2013.
Professor David Hillman, President, Sleep Health Foundation said, “Research has shown that approximately 50 percent of older adults report difficulty sleeping.
“This is of great concern because we know that poor sleep in the elderly has been shown to contribute to decreased quality of life, more symptoms of depression and anxiety, slower reaction times, memory problems, issues with balance and vision, increasing risk of falls, and even death.
“Older people believe that sleep problems are inevitable but this simply isn’t true, healthy older people sleep just as well as healthy younger people.
Professor Shantha Rajaratnam, President, Australasian Sleep Association said, “Poor sleep in older people is most likely related to conditions that accompany getting older such as significant medical and psychiatric conditions, specific sleep disorders, increased use of medication and changes in circadian sleep-wake cycles.
“As we age, our circadian body clock is shifted to an early time, which can cause difficulties in getting a good night’s sleep.
“Older people can achieve a good night’s sleep but they might need to talk to their doctor about their medications, adjust the time they go to bed and wake up earlier because their body clock’s sleep-wake cycles have shifted, or get treatment for other conditions that are interfering with their sleep.”
Some sleep disorders, such as insomnia and obstructive sleep apnoea, are more common in the elderly, but with diagnosis and specialty care, these issues can be treated and even prevented.
Professor Hillman said everyone should take some time on World Sleep Day to think about their sleep habits because investing in sleep is an important health investment regardless of your age. And habits cultivated at a young age stay with us forever.
To sleep well follow the Ten Commandments of Sleep:
- Reserve the bed for sleep and sex. Don’t use the bedroom as an office, workroom or recreation room.
- Fix a bedtime and an awakening time.
- If you are in the habit of taking siestas (naps), do not exceed 45 minutes of daytime sleep.
- Avoid excessive alcohol ingestion four hours before bedtime and do not smoke.
- Avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime. This includes coffee, tea and many sodas, as well as chocolate.
- Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods four hours before bedtime. A light snack before bed is acceptable.
- Exercise regularly, but not right before bed.
- Use comfortable bedding.
- Find a comfortable temperature setting for sleeping and keep the room well ventilated.
- Block out all distracting noise and eliminate as much light as possible.
Dr Alex Bartle says a lack of sleep can affect us not just in the short term, but can have a lasting impact.
For more information contact Lucy Williams: 0403 753 028