Sleep — it’s a necessity for all of us, yet according to a new study, an astounding two-thirds of seniors have problems in this area. On top of this statistic, researchers have discovered that even when sleep is a problem for older adults, their doctors often don’t acknowledge this fact and they don’t provide solutions for their patients.
Are you getting enough sleep? According to the new study, which is from Northwestern University and has been published in a recent edition of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychology, if you are 60 and over, you might not be. In fact, a staggering 69% of the participants (1,503 patients who were 60 and over) noted at least one sleep complaint, 40% had two or more complaints, and 45% complained that they had problems with falling asleep or being able to stay asleep.
The worst part? Even with all these sleep-related complaints, seniors aren’t being asked by their doctors if getting enough good rest is a problem for them, and they certainly aren’t being provided with any solutions to their problem. According to the study’s author, Kathryn Reid, “A doctor may not think that it’s very important to ask the patient about sleep. We (the researchers) hypothesize that doctors think that sleep problems are a normal part of aging, and there’s not much they can do about it.”
Do you have to adopt this thinking? Absolutely not! In fact, there are things that you can do to tackle your sleep problems. The first step is to be proactive and determine what may be causing the problem. Insomnia may be more common as you get older, but it does not have to be a permanent problem in your life. Don’t adopt a complacent attitude.
Next, do any of the following questions apply to you? If one or more does, then you should contact your doctor.
— Do you sleep very lightly? — Do you find it hard to stay asleep all night? — Do you wake up more than three times in one night?
Also, do you have any of the following conditions? Know that they can also contribute to insomnia.
— Arthritis or osteoporosis — Heartburn, heart disease, stroke, or high blood pressure — Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) — Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) — Cancer — Diabetes — Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease — Incontinence or enlarged prostate
Finally, medications can also be to blame. If you are taking any of the following drugs, be sure to contact your doctor, as they can contribute to sleeping problems.
— Antidepressants — Bronchodilators — Beta blockers — Gastrointestinal drugs — Corticosteroids — Calcium channel blockers — Decongestants — Cardiovascular drugs
Knowing what is causing your insomnia is the key here. Take control — getting a good night’s rest starts with you. Make your symptoms known to your doctor and demand that he/she helps you find a solution.