Ever tossed and turned all night, unable to get a good night’s sleep? The next day you find it hard to focus, you want to eat unhealthy foods, and you feel physically and mentally off? You are not alone.
Sleep is supposed to be a time of restoration, when you brain heals your body from the day’s wears and tears. Good sleep means you rotate through the sleep cycles multiple times during a sleep period. You go from the lightest sleep to the deepest sleep, or rapid eye movement stage, which is where you dream.
Getting good sleep now can help you prevent cognitive decline and memory loss as you age. Not everyone is able to properly cycle through the sleep stages, and one reason is due to aging. This lack of good sleep is associated with memory loss.
Aging-related sleep issues can negatively impact a person’s ability to function. However, there are steps you can take to improve your sleep patterns. Keep reading to learn more.
Dementia is defined by a person, usually older in age, having multiple cognitive deficiencies, such as memory loss. More simply put, dementia causes a person to decline so much mentally that it interferes with their ability to function.
Dementia has long been associated with sleep disturbances. According to reports, one quarter of all adults with dementia experience sleep disturbances. Sleep disturbances in dementia patients can be separated by daytime and nighttime disturbances. For instance, during the day, a person with dementia can appear agitated, aggressive, problems concentrating or focusing.
They may also be more prone to accidents. Because they lack good sleep at night, they may want to take naps during the day. It is as if their circadian rhythm Is confused. At night, people with dementia wake up frequently. Some wander around, some move around in their bed and some talk excessively. Sleep apnea and snoring can also lead to poor sleep for those with dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that progresses with age. It destroys memory and thinking skills. It prevents people from carrying out ordinary daily functions. Dementia is a form of Alzheimer’s disease so the age-related sleep issues will be the same. However, a person with Alzheimer’s may also experience insomnia or the opposite of over-sleeping.
Some may become restless or agitated when the sun goes down. This is called sundowning in the medical field. Researchers claim that lack of sleep causes a buildup of certain proteins in the brain. When studied, people who have sleep disturbances have been found to have a higher amount of these proteins, or plaque.
These extra proteins make it hard to form new memories or to recall old memories. It is important to note that just because you have proteins, does not mean you are destined to have dementia or Alzheimer’s. However, those with the diseases do have more proteins than those without.
From a shift in circadian rhythm to pre-existing medical conditions, sleep among the aging can be affected. Gastrointestinal issues, medications being taken for certain conditions, or respiratory problems can prevent aging adults from getting a good night’s sleep. When a person has chronic insomnia, bigger physical and mental problems can appear.
Insomnia is becoming more common among aging adults, with one study reporting nearly 25% suffering from this disorder. Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. This problem tends to increase with age, and can lead to memory loss, irritability, changes in mental and physical health.
Underlying Medical Conditions
These are some of the medical conditions with side effects that can interfere with good sleep quality:
- Heart and lung conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Acid reflux
- Overactive bladder
- Enlarged prostrate
- Periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD)
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS)
- Sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is defined as brief pauses of breathing during sleep. Some of these pauses can be obstructive and can lead to death. They appear more in middle-age to older adults, according to reports. When someone stops breathing during sleep, oxygen is not getting to the brain.
A lack of oxygen, for any amount of time, can begin to affect mental and physical capabilities, including memory loss. Some may suffer with central sleep apnea, in which changes in the brain are the cause for the pause in breathing.
Poor Sleep Hygiene
Good sleep hygiene, if done right, gives you a higher chance of preventing health threats such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, mental health disorders and more. Poor sleep hygiene is a disorder formed by poor sleep habits.
Meaning, your sleep routine, whether good or bad, influences your sleep. Poor sleep hygiene includes unhealthy habits such as:
- Sleeping with the television on.
- Eating junk food right before bed.
- Playing on your technology devices.
- Sleeping on an uncomfortable bed.
These habits prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep, leading to poorer functioning, memory issues, and health problems.
Disordered Sleep Health
If you are not taking care of certain health issues, your sleep can become disordered. Health issues such as hormonal imbalances, excessive stress, and poor lifestyle choices can prohibit proper sleep and lead to bigger problems, like memory loss. To avoid disordered sleep, meet with a medical specialist trained in the area of sleep.
Specialists who focus on improving sleep to improve life are your top picks for getting help. Choose a doctor who can:
- Teach you how to implement sleep hygiene techniques to form good sleep habits.
- Conduct a sleep study on you to determine any effects to date of poor sleep.
- Help you receive restorative sleep.
Start today by calling a specialist who can help you avoid sleep issues and memory loss in the future.