Seniors Not Reporting Sleep Problems to Doctors

Senior man sleeping

It is increasing difficult to climb out from under warm bedding on these cold, dark and often blustery mornings but many older adults also find it equally hard to fall asleep.  A recent poll of American seniors between the ages of 65 and 80 found that almost half of older adults report sleep problems and 1 in 3 regularly use medication or supplements to help them fall asleep.

Many seniors just accept that poor sleep is a natural part of aging and there is nothing that can be done to improve their quality of sleep so they don’t talk with their doctor about their sleep problems.  According to a recent report in Forbes magazine, it’s important to discuss sleep issues with your physician because these problems can be a sign of a more serious underlying health concern. 

By investigating the cause of sleep disturbances, seniors can not only uncover undiagnosed health issues, they can vastly improve quality of life.  Seniors surveyed often reported that stress, pain, worry or a need to use the bathroom were some of the issues causing loss of sleep.  Talking over these concerns with your doctor could prevent health risks and improve overall well-being.

Changes in sleep patterns are common among older adults but persistent difficulty falling or staying asleep is not a normal part of aging.  The use of medication for sleep, particularly over a long period of time, can lead to serious health dangers for older adults.  Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about alternatives to using drugs to manage chronic sleep problems.

Tips to Improve Sleep

  • Establish a regular sleep routine
  • Limit caffeine after midday
  • Limit alcohol
  • Get regular exercise
  • Turn off screens 1 hour before bed
  • Talk with your doctor about any medications you have been taking

Follow this link to read more about the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Healthy Aging.