A good night’s sleep provides so many benefits for our health, both mentally and physically. For older adults, sleep becomes even more important, but can also become harder. As people get older, they are more likely to experience insomnia, a condition where a person has trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep.
Symptoms of insomnia are:
- Trouble falling asleep at night
- Waking up multiple times during the night
- Having trouble staying asleep and getting up very early in the morning
- Feeling tired and irritable and have trouble concentrating during the day
In order to combat insomnia, it may be tempting to reach for over-the counter sleeping
pills. However, these pills can be bad for your health, with side effects including dependency. According to a review of clinical studies reported in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (or CBT) is far superior in helping people sleep than any of the commercially sold sleeping medications that promise to remedy one’s insomnia.
Drugs simply treat an insomniac’s symptoms without addressing the underlying cause, while CBT works on one’s behavior, making sleep a more positive experience. CBT helps patients develop good sleeping habits and avoid those behaviors that keep them from sleeping well. It typically includes the following:
- Stimulus control therapy. This helps remove factors that condition the mind to
resist sleep. This could include maintaining a consistent bedtime routine, including wakeup times and avoiding naps; leaving the bedroom when unable to sleep for 20 minutes; and staying away from coffee, alcohol or heavy exercise prior to bedtime.
- Bedtime restriction. This is intended to break the patient’s habit of lying in bed without being able to fall asleep. This treatment decreases the time spent in bed, causing partial sleep deprivation, which makes one more tired the next night.
- Improving the sleep environment. This may include such changes as keeping the bedroom quiet, dark and cool, hiding a clock from view, and removing the TV.
- Paradoxical intention. Paradoxically, worrying over not being able to sleep can actually keep you awake. This therapy involves getting the patient to avoid any effort to fall asleep. By letting go of this worry, you relax, which makes it easier to sleep.
If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of insomnia, talk to your doctor about your options. Sleep is vital for your overall health and it is possible to achieve better sleep with safe, natural lifestyle changes and without taking possibly detrimental sleeping pills.
Angels Senior Home Solutions is a based-in-faith company that provides in-home healthcare and personal care services for seniors. Visit our website here or find us on Facebook or Twitter!