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Sleep Disorders

Suggestions for a Good Night's Sleep

Sleep Disorders

We all look forward to a good night's sleep. Getting enough sleep and sleeping well help us stay healthy. Many older people do not enjoy a good night's sleep on a regular basis. They have trouble falling or staying asleep. Sleep patterns change as we age, but disturbed sleep and waking up tired every day is not part of normal aging. In fact, troubled sleep may be a sign of emotional or physical disorders and something you should talk about with a doctor or sleep specialist.

Sleep and Aging

There are two kinds of sleep in a normal sleep cycle - rapid eye movement or dreaming sleep (REM) and quiet sleep (non-REM). Everyone has about four or five cycles of REM and non-REM sleep a night. For older people, the amount of time spent in the deepest stages of non-REM sleep decreases. This may explain why older people are thought of as light sleepers. Although the amount of sleep each person needs varies widely, the average range is between 7 and 8 hours a nig...More

Fast Facts: Learn! Fast!

What Sleep Disorders are there?

  • All Sleep Disorders involve daytime stress and trouble with work, school or daily activities because of sleep problems during the night.
  • People with a sleep disorder often have depression, anxiety, trouble thinking, remembering or learning information that need to be treated along with the particular sleep problem.
  • Ongoing sleep issues like insomnia (trouble falling asleep) or excessive (too much) sleeping can lead to other mental health problems, so getting help is important if you suffer from these conditions.
  • There are 10 Sleep Disorders:
    • Insomnia Disorder - having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or going back to sleep after waking up.
    • Hypersomnolence Disorder - being really sleepy even though you slept at least 7 hours at a time
    • Narcolepsy - being unable to resist going to sleep or taking a nap
    • Breathing-Related Sleep Disorders - this includes 3 issues:
      • Obstructive Sleep Apnea Hypopnea - the person takes involuntary pauses in breathing during sleep where air cannot flow in or out of their nose or mouth. This causes them to be very tired during the day.
      • Central Sleep Apnea - when the brain doesn't send the right signals to start the breathing muscles during sleep, which causes the person to temporarily stop breathing.
      • Sleep-Related Hypoventilation - the person has decreased breathing and leads to an increase in blood carbon dioxide (CO2) levels.
    • Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder - disruptions in a person's cycle of sleeping and being awake. This often happens because of a work schedule (for example, working overnight and sleeping during the day) that results in being very tired and sleeping a lot, having trouble going to or staying asleep (insomnia) or both.
    • Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) Sleep Arousal Disorders - the person has either Sleepwalking or Sleep Terrors while sleeping.
    • Nightmare Disorder - repeated and long dreams that usually involve trying to avoid threats to survival or physical safety.
    • Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep Behavior Disorder - repeated episodes of vocalization (loud talking, yelling or screaming) and/or complex motor behaviors (kicking, punching, jumping out of bed, etc.) while asleep.
    • Restless Legs Syndrome - an urge to move the legs during rest or inactivity due to uncomfortable or unpleasant sensations in the legs (a "pins and needles" type of feeling or crawling, tingling, burning or itching sensations).
    • Substance/Medication-Induced Sleep Disorder - severe problems with sleep that started during or soon after using too much of a substance or while trying to stop using it. This could include alcohol, caffeine, sedatives, opioids, stimulants, cocaine, tobacco, or other medications.

For more information

What are some tips for getting a good night's sleep?

  • Follow a regular schedule - go to sleep and get up at the same time. Try not to nap too much during the day - you might be less sleepy at night.
  • Try to exercise at regular times each day.
  • Try to get some natural light in the afternoon each day.
  • Be careful about what you eat. Don't drink beverages with caffeine late in the day. Caffeine is a stimulant and can keep you awake. Also, if you like a snack before bed, a warm beverage and a few crackers may help.
  • Don't drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes to help you sleep. Even small amounts of alcohol can make it harder to stay asleep. Smoking is dangerous for many reasons including the hazard of falling asleep with a lit cigarette. The nicotine in cigarettes is also a stimulant.
  • Create a safe and comfortable place to sleep. Make sure there are locks on all doors and smoke alarms on each floor. A lamp that's easy to turn on and a phone by your bed may be helpful. The room should be dark, well ventilated, and as quiet as possible.
  • Develop a bedtime routine. Do the same things each night to tell your body that it's time to wind down. Some people watch the evening news, read a book, or soak in a warm bath.
  • Use your bedroom only for sleeping. After turning off the light, give yourself about 15 minutes to fall asleep. If you are still awake and not drowsy, get out of bed. When you get sleepy, go back to bed.
  • Try not to worry about your sleep. Some people find that playing mental games is helpful. For example, think black - a black cat on a black velvet pillow on a black corduroy sofa, etc.; or tell yourself it's 5 minutes before you have to get up and you're just trying to get a few extra winks.

For more information

News Articles

  • Health Tip: Plan for Better Sleep

    Even getting a good night's sleep requires some thought and preparation. More...

  • Health Tip: Stress Can Impact Sleep

    Too much stress may make it difficult to fall asleep or stay that way. More...

  • Sleep Apnea May Boost Alzheimer's Risk

    So claims a new study that has linked sleep apnea with an increase in the development of amyloid plaque in the brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease. More...

  • CPAP May Be Superior to Gastric Banding for Severe Sleep Apnea

    Continuous positive airway pressure may be a more effective treatment than laparoscopic gastric banding for control of severe obstructive sleep apnea, according to a study published online Oct. 16 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. More...

  • Bad Hot Flashes, Sleep Apnea Often Go Together

    WEDNESDAY, Nov. 1, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- As if severe hot flashes alone weren't enough of a problem for menopausal women, a new study finds these symptoms may also be tied to a greater risk for sleep apnea and related heart issues. More...

  • 38 More
    • Remede System Approved for Sleep Apnea

      Implantable device stimulates breathing during sleep More...

    • Could You Be Overdoing It With Sleeping Pills?

      Know the risk/reward ratio of these drugs. More...

    • CPAP Telemonitoring Improves 90-Day Adherence

      The use of continuous positive airway pressure therapy telemonitoring with automated feedback messaging improves 90-day adherence in patients with obstructive sleep apnea, according to a study published online Aug. 31 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. More...

    • Nerve 'Zap' Treatment Could Be Alternative to CPAP for Sleep Apnea

      Device reduces breathing disruptions long-term, study says. More...

    • Health Tip: Treating Sleep Apnea

      To prevent significant health problems More...

    • AAO-HNS: Improvement in OSA With Cranial Nerve Stimulation

      For patients with moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea, cranial nerve XII stimulation is associated with significant clinical improvements at one and five years, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, held from Sept. 10 to 13 in Chicago. More...

    • Sleep Apnea Wreaks Havoc on Your Metabolism

      Finding supports use of CPAP therapy for condition, so blood pressure and blood sugar levels don't jump. More...

    • Sleepless Nights Plague Many Women in Middle Age

      Phases in and around menopause play a big role in insomnia, CDC study finds. More...

    • Can a Digital Doctor Help You Sleep?

      New research says yes, and all those extra Zzzzs may help ease other mental health concerns. More...

    • Health Tip: Avoid These Beverages to Fight Insomnia

      Prevent sleep problems while traveling More...

    • Review Links Sleep-Disordered Breathing, Cognitive Impairment

      Sleep-disordered breathing is associated with increased likelihood of cognitive impairment, according to a review published online Aug. 28 in JAMA Neurology. More...

    • Sleepless Nights Do No Favors for Your Heart

      Study ties insomnia to heightened odds for heart disease, stroke. More...

    • Could You Have Sleep Apnea?

      Snoring that wakes your partner is a big clue. More...

    • Preterm Birth Risk Spikes in Mothers With Sleep Disorders

      Pregnant women with apnea or insomnia have roughly twice the risk of delivering before 34 weeks, study finds. More...

    • Seeing Video of Self Struggling to Breathe Ups CPAP Adherence

      Sleep apnea patients are more likely to use their continuous positive airway pressure machines after they see a video of themselves fighting to breathe at night, according to a study presented recently at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (SLEEP 2017), held from June 3 to 7 in Boston. More...

    • Videotaping Sleepers Raises CPAP Use

      Viewing the tapes helped convince patients to stick with the sleep apnea treatment, study found. More...

    • AAIC: Alzheimer Biomarkers Up With Sleep Disordered Breathing

      Biological changes in the brain may underlie a relationship between sleep disordered breathing and Alzheimer's disease, according to new research. A trio of studies on the matter were scheduled for presentation at the annual Alzheimer's Association International Conference, held from July 16 to 20 in London. More...

    • CPAP Mask Not a Prescription for Heart Troubles

      Device helped with sleep apnea, but didn't cut deaths from cardiovascular causes, study finds. More...

    • Health Tip: Get the Facts on Alcohol and Sleep

      Know how it affects you More...

    • Health Tip: If You Have Sleep Apnea

      Here are self-care suggestions More...

    • Warming Climate, More Sleepless Nights?

      Poor and elderly will feel the heat the most, study predicts. More...

    • Sleepless Nights Could Pose Heart Risk Dangers

      Less than 6 hours a night doubled chances of dying from heart disease, stroke, study suggests. More...

    • Sleep Apnea Reporting Low Among Individuals Aged ≥65

      From 1993 to 2011, physicians reported sleep apnea in 0.3 percent of all office visits among individuals aged 65 years and older, according to a study published online May 4 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. More...

    • Sleep Apnea May Boost Odds of Irregular Heartbeat

      Study shows the more someone stops breathing at night, the greater the risk of atrial fibrillation. More...

    • Docs May Not Spot Sleep Apnea, Insomnia in Blacks

      Reasons why remain unclear, and disparity needs more research, study suggests. More...

    • Sleep Apnea May Boost Pregnancy Complications

      Longer hospital stays, more hysterectomies tied to the sleep disorder, study says. More...

    • Health Tip: Slipping Back Into Sleep

      Suggestions for when you wake up at night More...

    • Past Prescribing Behavior Predicts Choice of Insomnia Rx

      In treatment of insomnia, historical preference for a certain medication is highly predictive of future prescribing behavior, according to a study published online Feb. 9 in Scientific Reports. More...

    • What Guides Docs' Sleeping Pill Picks? 'Same Old Same Old,' Study Says

      Researchers asked why one popular drug is prescribed over another. More...

    • Skimp on Sleep and You Just May Wind Up Sick

      Study of twins showed when someone is sleep-deprived, immune system weakens. More...

    • Sleepless Nights Linked to Asthma Later in Life

      Adults with chronic insomnia 3 times more likely to develop the respiratory disorder, study suggests. More...

    • The ABCs of Good Zzzzzs

      Expert panel defines a good night's sleep. More...

    • Jury Still Out on Whether to Screen All Adults for Sleep Apnea

      Not enough data to advise for or against such screening, U.S. experts in prevention and medicine say. More...

    • Health Tip: 5 Things to Help You Sleep Soundly

      Sleep expert recommendations More...

    • Many Misuse OTC Sleep Aids: Survey

      Consumer Reports finds the non-prescription drugs are taken for periods far longer than their intended use. More...

    • VA ECHO Program Feasible for Management of Sleep Disorders

      A U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes program is feasible for increasing comfort in managing common sleep complaints, according to research published online Dec. 15 in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society. More...

    • Study Finds Genetic Link Between Sleep Problems and Obesity

      Restless legs syndrome, schizophrenia also have biological ties to sleep disorders, research suggests. More...

    • Associated Professional Sleep Societies, June 5-9, 2010


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Juneau Alliance for Mental Health, Inc.
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