Sleep patterns change as we age. Older adults need just as much sleep as ever. But they often have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep at night. And even with a full night’s sleep, many elders don’t feel refreshed in the morning. That’s because they don’t get enough time in the deep sleep stage of the sleep cycle.
Most elders find ways to cope with these normal changes. Cutting back on caffeine and taking a 30-minute midafternoon nap are recommended remedies. Sometimes problems sleeping are linked to temporary stress or a disturbing event. These go away over time.
But for some older adults, sleep difficulty becomes chronic. If your loved one has ongoing insomnia, it puts him or her at greater risk of falling or of getting into a car accident. It may also contribute to memory loss or depression.