6 Misconceptions of Aging and Sleep

August 11th, 2016 by John Wilson

Clinical research has demonstrated many of the things commonly believed about sleep during the senior years simply are not true. Because of the numerous connections between good sleep and good health, weeding out these misconception of aging and sleep are important. Eliminating those misconceptions helps to change the perception poor sleep is simply an expected part of the senior years to be accepted, encouraging seniors and their caregivers instead to seek solutions for improving sleep quality.

Decreased Sleep Quality Part of Aging

University of California, San Diego, psychiatry professor and sleep researcher, Sonia Ancoli-Israel, found healthy seniors don’t typically have trouble sleeping. According to her extensive research, it is not aging that causes deteriorating sleep quality, but rather the health ailments the elderly are more prone to and, often, the medications used to treat those ailments.

That is why the comprehensive medication review that is a typical part of the intake process at an assisted living center in Oklahoma City is so important. It helps identify medications that may not interact well together and can point to symptoms that are medication side effects, allowing caregivers to seek other options.

Night Waking Isn’t Always a Problem

Researchers have found the straight eight sleep pattern is a recent development in human history, one associated with easy artificial lighting and the impact of that lighting on how we, as a culture, live and organize our lives. For most of known human history, the sleep norm has been what medieval people referred to as first sleep and second sleep, sleeps separated by a brief period of wakefulness. Monks and others often spent that time in prayer, reflection and other more private or intimate activities.

Learn the misconceptions of aging and sleep.

There are many misconceptions of aging and sleep.

Toss the Straight Eight Measuring Stick

Eight hours is not the golden mean of proper, healthful sleep. Not every adult needs eight hours of sleep at any point in their adulthood. It’s not really a good measure. The right measure is individual norm over a given span of time.

Senior Activity Important to Restful Sleep

Many of the people who enter assisted living in Oklahoma City have had to become less physically and socially active due to health conditions. The decrease of activity can contribute to sleep problems. However, the increased physical and social activities that are characteristically more available to seniors at assisted living centers work to improve sleep quality.

Age Not Found to Increase Daytime Drowsiness

Again, it is not being a senior that increases daytime drowsiness, but rather the state of health. Poor health and the medications used to treat it can cause sleep disruptions, as well as the lifestyle changes brought about by poor health, such as decreased activity.

Little Change in Sleep Patterns

Healthy seniors do take far longer to fall asleep naturally and reach the dream state. A healthy 80-year old make take 10 minutes longer, on average, to fall asleep. While there is a possibility of slightly lighter sleep for the average healthy senior, that change is more likely to have taken place in middle age. Even with slightly later sleep, healthy seniors still typically enjoy deep, restorative sleep. Contact us to learn more about improving senior sleep today.

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