Everyone needs a good night’s sleep, but many older people don’t sleep well. In fact, the Mayo Clinic reports that it is normal as one ages to sleep less and spend less time in the rapid eye movement cycle. There are many reasons why sleep may be disturbed in older people.

Some medicines can disrupt sleep, as can pain. Physical discomforts, such as needing to use the bathroom or move an achy joint are common culprits, as is alcohol near bedtime, which may help you fall asleep but also makes it more likely you will wake up in the night. There are medical conditions that cause insomnia including sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder and rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder. Alzheimer’s disease often changes a person’s sleeping habits and can disrupt the caregiver’s sleep as well.

According to the National Institute on Aging, an ongoing lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep increases the risk of health problems such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and obesity. Therefore, it is important to take steps to overcome low quality sleep if it is persistent.

A visit to your primary care physician and/or a sleep specialist may be in order. Being active during the day and doing exercise regularly may help and is also beneficial for other aspects of your health.

Visit founders-hall.org to learn more about our educational and fitness programs. Ridgefield residents age 60+ are welcome to join anytime.