Geriatric sleep disorder is a sleeping disturbance in elders. Read this article to know more.
Geriatric sleep disorder is a problem that causes sleep disturbances in older people. The patient will have difficulty sleeping for the required time. There will be altered sleeping patterns and the quality of sleep will also be reduced. Normally, sleep should last for seven to eight hours. In some patients, there would be difficulties in sleeping for eight hours. It might be due to age factors or underlying health conditions. Some of the psychotherapy treatments are helpful. Medications are also beneficial.
The main reason for a geriatric sleep disorder is an underlying primary sleep disorder condition. A primary sleep disorder will have the following features:
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): It is a condition in which there is an uncontrolled need to move the legs during sleep. It might include depression in some patients. There is no proper treatment for this condition. The complication is higher if it is associated with other health issues.
Sleep Apnea: It is a condition in which there is difficulty in breathing during an episode of sleep. It is due to the issues relating to the muscles of breathing. Some medications can also cause sleep apnea. Drugs like Morphine and Oxycodone can also cause sleep apnea. Patients who are affected with sleep apnea, also have altered patterns of speech and change in voice. The patient can get better with proper treatment.
Insomnia: Patients who are affected with insomnia are known to have difficulties in falling asleep. Nearly ten percent of the people are affected by insomnia. If it is known to occur for more than three months, the patient might get affected by major depressive disorder. Menopause can also be the cause of insomnia. With proper medications and psychological counseling, the patient will recover soon.
Periodic Limb Movement Disorder: In periodic limb movement disorder, the patient will experience twitching and jerking of the arms and legs. It is known to happen in sleep. It might last for a few seconds or hours. Drugs like antidepressants and anticonvulsants are known to cause periodic limb movement disorder. Iron deficiency anemia can also cause this condition. Treating the underlying cause will help the patient to recover.
REM Behavior Disorder: In REM behavior disorder, the patients will try to act on what happens in their dreams. It might also sound ridiculous to their bed partner or family members. The patient might kick, punch, shout, and talk during their sleep. It is necessary to stay cautious around these patients. This condition is harmful not only for the patient but also for their family members and friends. It is a serious condition and needs medical help as soon as possible.
Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorders: A biological clock is seen in the normal physiological functioning of human beings. If this clock gets disturbed, there will be a disturbance in the sleep-wake cycle. This will result in a circadian rhythm disorder. The complications include loss of concentration and insomnia. There are few tips for home care that can be followed to bring your circadian rhythm to normal levels.
Some medications can also cause geriatric sleep disorder. They are:
Diuretics: It is used by patients who have glaucoma and high blood pressure.
Corticosteroids Like Prednisone: It is used by patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Drugs Like Levodopa: It is used by patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Anticholinergics: It is used by patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Adrenergic Drugs: It is used by patients who are having asthma attacks.
The other common causes are:
Geriatric sleep disorder is known to be associated with the following medical conditions:
Chronic conditions like arthritis.
Loss of bladder control.
The patient will have generalized fatigue and they will have dizziness or sleepiness during day time. Patients with geriatric sleep disorder will wake up early at midnight. The main reason for sleeplessness in older patients could be depression and psychiatric illness. People who are lonely are known to have geriatric sleep disorders rather than people who live with their family members. Older people who have lost their partners are known to have difficulties in sleeping patterns as they might feel insecure most of the time.
A proper family history would be required for planning treatment. A precise sleep study would be required to analyze the sleeping patterns of the individual. This will require sleep specialists to gain exact confirmatory diagnosis. The following patterns will be recorded:
Movements of the body.
The oxygen saturation level in the blood is also calculated. If you are suspected to have primary sleep disorder, then you will be requested for a polysomnogram.
The first and the foremost level of treatment is aimed at giving behavioral therapy. The patient will be given counseling for relieving any depressive events as it might disrupt the sleep. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a therapeutic technique that can be used to help patients with sleep disorders.
The patient will be asked to avoid sleeping during day time. Minimal exercise will also be advised for the patient. Practicing meditation before sleep is the best way to have a sound sleeping habit. The patient should avoid taking caffeine before going to bed. Avoiding medications is a good idea because the patients are already older and they would be consuming medications for other health issues. Taking sedatives might interact with the medicines they are already having regularly. A modification in the lifestyle will provide positive results. The following are the few tips that can be followed to fall asleep:
Cultivate the habit of reading books before sleep.
Avoid bright lights in your bedroom as it might prevent sleep.
Maintain a pleasant fragrance in your bedroom as it can soothe your body and produce relaxed feelings.
Prefer to sleep with your loved ones so that you can feel secure.
Drinking a glass of milk will also stimulate sleep in individuals.
Avoid eating heavy meals two hours before going to bed.
Snacking during midnight will interrupt your sleep.
You can consult the doctors at icliniq.com.
Last reviewed at:
16 May 2022 - 5 min read
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