Insomnia and Aging – Staring at the Ceiling at 1 a.m.

Insomnia and Aging – Staring at the Ceiling at 1 a.m.

Are you over 65 and find yourself staring at the ceiling at 1 or 2 am? If so, you’re not alone. According to research, as many as 50% of seniors have the same problem.

Insomnia, or the inability to sleep, can be as debilitating as going without food, water or exercise. For seniors, lying awake for hours while the rest of the world sleeps is not only boring and isolating, it’s also bad for our immune system, energy level and mental health. Insomnia can lead to susceptibility to illness, depression and irritability. It interferes with social activities and can lead to memory loss.

As we age, we need as much sleep as we did when we were younger, but going to sleep and staying asleep can both become more difficult. There are some common sense methods to try.

  • Avoid daytime naps.
  • Don’t drink caffeinated beverages in the evening.
  • Stop exercising at least 6 hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid exposure to the blue light of digital screens for at least an hour before going to bed.
  • Don’t watch or read scary or violent videos or books in the evening.

But what if these measures aren’t enough?

As we age, it’s true that we can’t do as much as we used to do, and our aches and pains start to accumulate. But not everything we experience is attributable to getting older, and even when it is, we don’t have to tolerate each and every side effect of aging. When it’s difficult to tell the difference between what we have to live with, and what might be able to be fixed, it’s time to bring in the experts. Why live with more discomfort and inconvenience than we have to?

If you’ve tried the common sense measures without success, it’s probably time to see a healthcare provider. There are many potential solutions: medications, relaxation techniques, cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, etc. In addition, a healthcare professional can help determine if your insomnia is caused by a more serious underlying condition.