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Five common causes of sleep problems in seniors

Getting a good night’s sleep isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity for maintaining your health and vitality as you grow older. So, why do approximately 48% of Australian adults report problems sleeping? From changes to your sleep architecture to medication side effects, several factors may be keeping you up at night. Thankfully, you don’t need to settle for disrupted sleep.

Grab a cup of chamomile tea, get cozy, and let’s dive in to the top five causes of sleep problems for older Australians.

#1 Changes in sleep architecture

On average, older adults wake up three to four times a night, which can prevent you from entering a deep sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. This change can cause feelings of tiredness throughout the day, as if you’ve spent most of the night awake or in a restless sleep. Even though we often experience less sleep at night compared to younger people, our sleep needs remain the same. In fact, the Sleep Foundation recommends adults of any age have approximately 7-8 hours of sleep per night. 

#2 Circadian rhythm shifts

Your circadian rhythm is the sleep pattern your body naturally follows. Although it’s normal for our circadian rhythm to shift over time, many of us ignore the signals our body sends us and go to bed later than necessary. Unfortunately, even if we sleep later, this doesn’t change our body’s natural wake-up call, which can lead to shorter, and more disrupted sleep cycles.

#3 Medication side effects

Certain medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, can interfere with sleep patterns and contribute to insomnia or disrupted sleep. Many older adults take multiple prescription medications for a variety of health conditions. Changes to your sleep pattern may be caused by individual medications, or they may occur when certain medications interact with each other. If you’ve noticed a change in your sleep pattern, especially if you are taking medication, it’s a good idea to discuss this with your doctor or healthcare provider.

#4 Health conditions

Your mental and physical health can significantly impact your sleep cycle. Chronic health issues such as arthritis, heart disease, or sleep apnoea can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night. These conditions often cause discomfort, pain, or difficulty breathing, and lead to a restless night. It’s important to address and manage these health issues to improve the quality of your sleep and overall wellbeing.

#5 Lifestyle factors

Lifestyle can have a huge impact on your natural sleep pattern. Factors like poor diet, lack of exercise, irregular sleep schedules, or high stress levels can all negatively impact sleep quality. 

Making small changes to improve your lifestyle, such as reducing caffeine consumption, eating a balanced diet, incorporating regular physical activity, establishing a consistent sleep routine, and finding healthy ways to manage stress can significantly improve your sleep patterns.

Would you like to know more? Read our article on tips to improve your sleep habits.


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Please contact Trilogy Care on 1300 459 190 for any further information.

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