As per a recent survey, about one third of the senior citizens in UK take sleeping pills to doze off. Also known as sedatives and tranquilizers, they slow down the functioning of the brain and the central nervous system for a serene rest at night.
How insomnia affects the elderly?
Sleep problems among the elderly can occur due to anxiety, stress, depression, chronic pain, restless leg syndrome and due to change in the sleeping environment. Firstly, incomplete sleep among elderly insomniacs can impact their cognitive function and concentration power. Secondly, it can affect the way they think, react, work, learn and communicate with others
Elders suffering from sleep deficiency face difficulty in making correct decisions, solving complex problems, controlling their emotions and coping with any change. Moreover, older people are at increased risk of daytime fatigue. Hence, most people ask this question “Can old people take sleeping pills “?
Side effects of Sleeping Pills
Side effects of sleep medications can be troublesome for elderly insomniacs. Basically, it can cause memory problems and confusion among them. And, aggravate the risk of hip fractures and falls. Further, dry mouth, constipation, difficulty in urination and drowsiness can affect their quality of life. Besides this, sedatives should never be prescribed for long term use due to side effects. Prolonged use can make the user tolerant and they may require a higher amount of the drug in order to experience a similar effect. Apart from this, a higher dose of sleeping pills can cause slurred speech, poor judgement, staggering movement and slow reflexes. Hence, seniors should always take sleep medications under medical supervision. And lastly, their health care advisor should ensure that the drug is helping them and not cause any adverse side effects.
Non drug alternatives for the elderly
Elderly patients should only take sleep medications when other treatment options have failed. In addition, regular exercises, meditation and deep breathing exercises can induce sleep among elderly insomniacs. Besides this, cognitive behaviour therapy, physical activity and avoiding afternoon naps can also improve their quality and duration of slumber.