Wellness & Education

Staring at the Ceiling at 1 a.m.

Are you over 65 and 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 fall or stay 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 are a lot harder than they were in our twenties. Here are a few some commonsense solutions 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 may not be able to do as much as we used to. We shouldn’t be surprised when our aches and pains start to build up. However, not everything we experience as we age is the result of getting older.  When we can’t tell the difference between avoidable and the unavoidable aspects of aging, it’s time to bring in the experts. This is as true of insomnia as it is of osteoarthritis, forgetfulness and other issues.

If you’ve tried the commonsense insomnia solutions and still can’t sleep, it’s probably time to see a healthcare provider. There are many potential solutions: medications, relaxation techniques, cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, etc.

In some cases insomnia indicate a more serious underlying health condition, so don’t be afraid to ask the experts for help.