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When Counting Sheep Doesn’t Help: What Causes Insomnia in Seniors?

August 3rd, 2017

Senior Care in Western Springs IL: When Counting Sheep Doesn’t Help: What Causes Insomnia in Seniors?

Senior Care in Western Springs IL: When Counting Sheep Doesn’t Help: What Causes Insomnia in Seniors?

There’s a common misconception that having trouble sleeping is just part of the aging process, but it’s not. Trouble sleeping is usually caused by some underlying problem, such as a medical condition, psychological concerns, or changes needed in lifestyle. One of the most common sleep complaint that seniors report is insomnia. If your parent suffers from insomnia, knowing the cause of the problem may help you and your parent’s senior care providers to assist them with getting a better night’s sleep—no sheep needed!

Understanding Insomnia
Insomnia is a sleep disorder that causes a person to have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. It can also cause a person to wake up very early and be unable to go back to sleep. Because most people need between seven and eight hours of sleep, getting less sleep due to insomnia can rob a senior of their energy, affect their mood, and even compromise their health.

Insomnia can last for just a few weeks or it can go on for much longer. When insomnia is persistent and is not resolved by taking care of an underlying issue, it is considered chronic. Symptoms of insomnia include:

  • Taking longer than 30 to 45 minutes to get to sleep.
  • Waking up early and not being able to get back to sleep.
  • Waking often during the night.
  • Feeling tired after waking and having that feeling affect function throughout the day.

Common Causes of Insomnia
There are a lot of reasons a senior might experience insomnia. You may have to do some work to discover just what is causing your parent to suffer from sleeplessness. Having a senior care provider spend the night with a senior could help you to pinpoint the cause if it is related to sleep habits and lifestyle. It is also a good idea to take your parent to the doctor to have them evaluated for medical conditions that may be causing insomnia. Common causes of insomnia include:

  • Health Conditions: There are several health conditions that may make a senior uncomfortable at night and affect their ability to sleep or their quality of sleep. Arthritis, heartburn, and cancer can all lead to sleeplessness. In men, prostate enlargement may cause them to wake up often to urinate. Women may also have incontinence problems that make them get up at night.
  • Lifestyle: When seniors nap during the day, they may be unable to sleep at night. They also may not spend enough time being physically active, which is important to help expend energy and can help them to fall asleep at night. Also, spending too much time indoors and out of the sunlight can throw off the body’s natural clock and make sleep difficult.
  • Psychological Conditions: Anxiety and depression can affect a senior’s ability to sleep. Anxiety can cause symptoms like tension and worrying that make a person lie awake at night. People with depression frequently have difficulty sleeping, so that sleeplessness is considered a symptom of depression.

If your parent is complaining of being tired or says they do not sleep at night, having them evaluated by a doctor may help solve the problem. In addition, a senior care provider can help by encouraging safe physical activity throughout the day and engaging seniors in activities during times of the day when they might otherwise nap. A senior care provider can also assist seniors with creating good sleep habits like sticking to a regular bedtime schedule and reducing noise and distractions in the evening hours.


About Linda Kunicki, CMP, Marketing Director

Linda Kunicki, CMP, Marketing Director

Linda Kunicki, CMP, Marketing Director

Linda has been with BrightStar Care of Chicago and BrightStar Care of La Grange since 2013. Her background includes a lengthy tenure in health care as well as a strong business background. While her primary focus has been management, training and marketing, Linda has taken on and succeeded at roles in Sales, Human Resources, and Project Management. Every position she’s had has allowed her to fulfil her passion to service others from children to seniors, which gives her joy each day. Her experience has led her to being on the board of the Chicago Chapter of the Case Management Society of America for multiple terms and serving on many committees for Aging Care Connections and local Health and Wellness groups.

Linda’s pathway to BrightStar began as being the caregiver for her mother and grandmother. Her personal experience has given her perspective into the growing need for high quality care in our society, from pediatrics to senior citizens. And she takes great pride in the Gold Seal of the Joint Commission Accreditation earned by BrightStar. It confirms her decision to make this company her employer of choice.

Linda has also owned Shetland Sheepdogs aka Shelties most of her life. For many years, she has been involved in activities with Shelties that have guided her to earn championship and performance titles on many of her own dogs and help others do the same.

Linda’s favorite quote, “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” Zig Zigler

Topics: General Health