As people age, various physiological systems age, and of course the nervous system is no exception. Because of this, sleep function has also undergone significant changes. The whole sleep awakening cycle is advanced. I want to go to bed at about 7 or 8 after dinner. I wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning and can’t sleep anymore. The sleep period increases, the light sleep period increases, and the deep sleep period decreases. The rapid eye movement period is also slightly reduced but the amplitude is not large, and often wakes up during sleep, resulting in a reduction in the overall sleep efficiency.
It is generally believed that the elderly should have fewer hours of sleep, which is a wrong concept. Although elderly people have fewer hours of sleep at night, they often take naps during the day, so in terms of 24 hours a day, the amount of sleep hours added up and down is really no less than that of young people.
According to statistics in the United States, only 12% of people over 65 years old do not have trouble sleeping, 19% complain of difficulty falling asleep, 29% complain of sleep failure and often wake up halfway, and 18% complain of waking up before dawn, and 28% of the elderly complained of insomnia.
The elderly suffer from chronic diseases (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, neuropathy, etc.) due to the decline in the functions of various body systems. These chronic diseases and the long-term use of drugs that control chronic diseases may cause interference with sleep. Coupled with old age retirement, or widowing, or living alone, or financial pressure, it often causes confusion in sleep hygiene and some mental illnesses.
Here are some of the diseases that cause sleep disturbance in the elderly:
Sleep apnea syndrome
Older age is a risk factor for apnea syndrome, especially older men. With the decline of brain stem and nerve function, it often causes central or obstructive apnea syndrome. Especially the brain function of the elderly is poor. If coupled with apnea caused by hypoxia and intermittent sleep, it will often worsen the snow, making the mental function of the elderly decline, the symptoms are very similar to dementia.
Periodic limb movement disorder
Periodic limb twitching also often increases with age, and the symptoms become frequent and severe, which interferes with sleep and interrupts sleep. The cases I have seen in China are mainly insomnia, but I have seen them in the United States. Have been to sleepiness as the main clinical symptoms. Periodic limb twitching is often accompanied by restless leg syndrome, and both have responded well to medication.
Trouble with medical diseases
With the increase of age, many degenerative chronic diseases have emerged one after another, such as arthritis, respiratory diseases, frequent urination at night, heart disease, etc. will cause the disturbance of old people’s sleep. Some medicines that treat medical diseases can also cause insomnia or narcolepsy. Other neurological diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke, dementia, and spinal cerebellar degeneration, which are more common in the elderly, can also cause sleep problems.
(4) Changes in the laws of sleep awakening biological clock
Once a person is over 50 years old, they are less able to adapt to behaviors that violate the laws of the biological clock of sleep awakening, such as night workers or rapid travel across multiple time zones. In addition, the biological clock regularity of sleep awakening in the elderly will also advance, and it will become a type of sleep awakening of early bedtime and early wakeup.
Since the elderly may not be able to work, if they do not have a good pension plan when they are young, once they reach old age, they have to rely on others for their financial resources, and they may live alone because of widows, or they may feel tired of the world due to illness. Therefore, we can often find that some elderly people are depressed, and even produce depression and other mental illnesses. And these mental illnesses also affect sleep.
(6) Sunset syndrome (sundowning syndrome)
Due to the evolution of the industrial and commercial society, many elderly people live alone in their homes, live in nursing homes, or lie in hospital beds for many years because of illnesses and cannot move freely. Because the brain functions of the elderly are relatively degraded, and because they are confined to the environment where they live for a long time, they are not visible in the sun, and they lack the stimulation of the external environment (such as sun light). When the sun goes down, the light becomes dim, causing Patients with hallucinations, restlessness, and unconsciousness are called sunset syndrome. The treatment method is to adhere to the principles of sleep hygiene, limit daytime naps, try to expose patients to daytime sunlight (especially sunrise and sunset) as much as possible, and make the night sleep environment stable, do not change the sleep environment often , Use soft lights in the bedroom as much as possible, and take medication to control if necessary.
(7) REM behavior disorder
This is a disease that is more likely to occur in the elderly. According to foreign statistics, 40% of patients have neurological diseases, and the remaining 60% of patients are idiopathic, and no special reason can be found.
Patients often express their dreams directly in the real environment, and most of their dreams are related to violence, so they often hurt the patients themselves or the people beside them.
Because the elderly have so many sleep problems, the elderly should adhere to the following principles of sleep hygiene to facilitate sleep.
a. Regular practice, go to bed on time, get up on time.
b. Before 5 pm, exercise with proper rules.
c. If necessary, take a nap in the afternoon, but not more than an hour.
d. Try to make the bedroom as comfortable as possible, temperature, light, noise, bed, pillows and room
Friends, etc. should be considered.
e. When going to bed, do not sleep with you on the TV.
f. The bed is a place to sleep, avoid listening to the radio on the TV in bed.
g. Avoid drinking or eating and drinking before going to bed.
h. After noon, do not consume caffeine.
i. Avoid working day and night shifts.
j. Avoid refreshing drugs.