WESTCHESTER, Ill. September 9th is National Grandparents Day, a day to honor grandparents across America as important members of our families and communities. Grandparents play important roles in life, including that of guardian, comforter, and mentor. As they get older, however, several aspects of their lives change, including their sleep patterns. While older adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep each night, many often get less sleep, which may make them more susceptible to health problems.
As we get older, our sleep is more easily disturbed, says James P. Krainson, MD, of the South Florida Sleep Diagnostic Center in Miami and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). Underlying health issues are often the cause of these disturbances. Arthritis and pain can cause frequent awakenings and interfere with falling asleep. Cardiovascular, neurologic, urologic and psychologic disturbances can likewise play havoc with our sleep. In fact, most all medical problems can disturb our sleep, and the older adults sleep is most vulnerable.
Many older adults often have more trouble falling asleep than persons in other age groups. A study of adults over the age of 65 found that 13 percent of men and 36 percent of women take more than 30 minutes to fall asleep.
There are many other possible explanations for changes in older adults sleep patterns, says Dr. Krainson. Older adults may produce and secrete less melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep. They may also be more sensitive to changes in their environment, such as noise, and this may cause them to awaken. Further, older adults may also have other medical and psychiatric problems that can affect their sleep, says Dr. Krainson, adding that researchers have noted that people without major medical or psychiatric illnesses report better sleep.
Several studies that outline the negative consequences of bad sleep among older adults were presented
Contact: Jim Arcuri
American Academy of Sleep Medicine