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Seeking Relief for Older Adults Struggling with Insomnia

Counseling for insomnia, sleep disorders counseling, need help falling asleep, best counselor near me, counseling Pinehurst NC, CCS

Seeking Relief for Older Adults Struggling with Insomnia


As you age, a lot of physical changes occur, including changes in sleeping patterns. The older you get, you may find it more difficult to fall asleep and experience more trouble staying asleep than during your younger years. The popular belief that sleep needs decline with age has been contradicted by studies suggesting that sleep needs remain constant regardless of age. So, what is keeping you awake all night?


Insomnia as a Strange Bedfellow in Later Life

Sleep problems in seniors are often misconstrued as a usual part of the aging process. One of them is the disorder known as insomnia, a prevalent sleep issue in late life. Insomnia is a common sleep problem characterized by insufficient or nonrestorative sleep despite plenty of opportunities to sleep. The National Sleep Foundation reports that it is harder for seniors aged 65 and above to stay asleep throughout the night.

Despite the fact that insomnia is a very common sleep issue affecting more than 50 percent of seniors, the condition is underrecognized, underdiagnosed and undertreated even by geriatric specialists. Geriatric insomnia is a serious problem with widespread prevalence. Senior adults with insomnia are often considered difficult to treat, yet their population has the greatest need for treatment. If the condition goes untreated, the poor sleep quality can have detrimental physical and emotional consequences for various aspects of strength, alertness and resilience vital for successful aging.


Growing Older, Sleeping Less

There are no clear-cut guidelines on how much sleep can be said to be the “right amount” for older adults. What is clear is the decline of sleep-related duties carried out by the brain as age progresses. Such decline starts to occur during the 40s, but the symptoms may become more obvious in the 50s and 60s. This is the period when the brain produces less of the hormone that regulates a night’s sleep and daytime alertness – melatonin.

During the senior years, the circadian rhythm or sleep patterns shift naturally in such a way that sleep comes early at night and ends too early in the morning. While growing older is often accompanied by some sleep changes, it is not necessarily the main cause of insomnia in aging adults. Late-life insomnia is not exclusively related to age. Other issues may be behind the sleep problem, including:


  • Physical health conditions such as gastrointestinal and respiratory problems, which can interrupt sleep countless times during the night due to the need to go to the bathroom. Other health issues may also be ascribed to cause the sleepless nights among seniors struggling with illnesses such as prostate enlargement, diabetes, arthritis, etc.


  • Behavioral and emotional health issues may affect the quality and amount of sleep vital as we age. It is quite difficult for anyone, especially seniors, to get a good night’s sleep while struggling with anxiety, depression, mood disorder, or stress.


  • Medicines or food consumed near bedtime may cause restlessness or hyperactivity. Some medicines have a diuretic effect, while others can serve as stimulants that keep the energy level high even past bedtime. Poor choices of food and too much alcohol consumption can also cause irregular sleeping pattern.


  • Sleeping hygiene and habits may cause sleeping difficulties if they interrupt the built-in body clock. For example, an irregular sleeping schedule can keep you awake because the body is not properly cued for sleep. Watching TV or playing games before bedtime may keep you awake or cause you to put off going to sleep. Based on studies, these practices hinder sleep due to the emanation of the blue light that impedes melanin production.


  • Sleeping environment plays a big part in achieving quality sleep. A sleeping environment where there is too much light, noise, or discomfort is an unsuitable setting for a relaxed and continuous sleep to happen throughout the night.


  • Lifestyle changes typically experienced by older people can trigger or perpetuate insomnia. Common issues such as retirement and financial worries, daytime naps, illnesses that impair mobility, reduced social interactions and isolation are known to be possible causes of the sleep disorder.


The Signs and Symptoms that Keep Seniors Awake

Insomnia is experienced in multiple forms. The transient or intermittent type can last for a few days, while the acute form can last for less time and often resolves without treatment. A more severe type called chronic insomnia can have symptoms that last at least three nights per week for months to years. Regardless of type, the end result is usually poor quality of sleep and an unrefreshed feeling upon waking.


Whether insomnia is a primary or secondary disorder, the general symptoms that are easily recognizable include the following:


  • Difficulty falling asleep which takes more than 30 to 45 minutes or longer
  • Difficulty staying asleep and falling back to sleep when awaken during the night
  • Waking up frequently every night and waking up too early in the morning
  • Greater memories of being awake
  • Non-restorative sleep characterized by feelings of fatigue and irritability
  • Daytime sleepiness, drowsiness and migraine
  • Cognitive impairment, such as lack of concentration or focus
  • Impaired memory
  • Confusion between day and night


The Burden of Untreated Insomnia in Seniors

 Along with a healthy diet and regular physical exercise, good quality of sleep is an essential ingredient to health during the senior years. Whatever the cause of insomnia, if it goes untreated it can have ramifying effects on your physical and emotional well-being.

The wide-ranging effects of untreated insomnia may aggravate existing health conditions, including hypertension, dementia, etc. Sleep insufficiency has also been linked to increase in appetite, thus insomnia is regarded as related to obesity. Obesity is a condition that can cause sleep apnea, a potentially serious sleep disorder that requires long-term regulation.

Untreated insomnia can create a residual sleep deprivation leading to poor concentration, feelings of tiredness and low energy that can precipitate injuries, falls, and other accidents. Ignoring the symptoms may lead to the development of emotional and behavioral health issues, affecting both personal and social relationships.  All these can take a toll on family support as the increasing fall-related injuries become important parameters for deciding what steps to take next in caring for the person.


Enjoying Good Quality Sleep in the Twilight Years

Insomnia is a condition that can affect many older adults. Unfortunately, it is often given little or no attention and regarded as a natural part of aging. Like everyone else, you require a good amount of sleep in order to feel rejuvenated upon waking up each new day. Sleep is just as important as it was when you were younger.

Sleep deprivation can, however, result in tiredness, dizziness, etc. You may think that the easiest way to find relief is to depend on sleep medications. Ultimately, you may undergo the consequences of tolerance, withdrawal symptoms and rebound insomnia.

Don’t let insomnia rob you of a precious commodity such as sleep. If you or someone you care about is burdened by the symptoms of insomnia, you have help available at Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC. You can find relief and solve the problem of insomnia with therapy by working with the right fit therapist independently contracted with CCS – Pinehurst, NC. The right therapeutic approach will be tailored to your needs to alleviate the symptoms of insomnia for wonderful days and nights ahead.


Call today to schedule an appointment!

Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC

Counties: Moore county, NC, Lee County, Hoke County, Chatham County

Areas: Pinehurst NC, West End NC, Taylortown NC, Seven Lakes NC, Eagle Springs NC, Jackson Springs NC, Foxfire NC, Candor NC, Norman NC, Ellerbe NC, Rockingham NC

Zip Codes: 27281, 27376, 28315, 28347, 28350, 28373, 28374, 28387, 28388, 28394

Kelly ErkenBrack, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 3+) Children, Teens, Adults, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, Grief and Loss, Mood Disorders, Trauma, Adjustments and Life Transitions, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting, Relationship Concerns, Self Esteem
Insurance: BCBSTricare Prime/Select, Medicare and Cash
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Location: Pinehurst, NC

Robin Caswell, MSW, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 5+), Individuals, Adults, Anxiety, Depression, Grief, Loss, ADHD, ODD, Trauma/PTSD, LGBTQ, Self-Harm, Military Family Life, Mood Disorders, OCD, Phobias
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Medicare and Cash
Credit Cards:  
Location: Pinehurst, NC

Counseling Information

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Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC

45 Dowd Circle Suite 5
PinehurstNC 28374

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PO BOX 9909
Fayetteville, NC 28311