Our thanks to Dr Rosie Gibson from Massey University for her help with this month's topic.
20-30% of older New Zealanders report a sleep problem.
Experiencing brief periods of problematic sleep is normal but if sleep is chronically disrupted this can impact our health, including raising our risk of cognitive impairment. For example, long lasting insomnia is associated with anxiety, depression, and impaired attention and memory. Sleep disordered breathing has been associated with cognitive impairment.
As we get older, sleep typically becomes lighter and more fragmented. Some of us also experience early morning awakenings, increased need to use the toilet overnight, and increased daytime sleepiness. To some extent, this is all normal and may not be associated with significant costs to our health.
Clinical sleep disorders also become more common with ageing. These include insomnia (trouble getting to or staying asleep), obstructive sleep apnoea (characterised by loud snoring, pauses in breathing and daytime sleepiness), and restless legs syndrome (an urge to move due to discomfort in the legs when we try to go to sleep).
These more problematic sleep changes with ageing have been related to several factors:
In addition to the tips above, for people living with dementia: