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Ottumwa, Iowa 52501
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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

  • More Than a Snore? Recognize the Signs of Sleep Apnea

    Untreated sleep apnea -- which causes repeated breathing interruptions during sleep -- can lead to serious health problems, so the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) wants you to consider: Is it more than a snore? More...

  • Why Music at Bedtime Might Not Be a Great Idea

    That music at bedtime that's supposed to help you fall asleep may actually have the opposite effect, new research suggests. More...

  • Poor Sleep After Head Injury Could Point to Dementia Risk

    Sleep disorders may increase the odds for dementia in survivors of traumatic brain injury, new research suggests. More...

  • AHA News: Kids With Sleep Apnea Into Teen Years Could Develop High Blood Pressure

    Children with obstructive sleep apnea who don't outgrow it by adolescence have nearly three times the risk of high blood pressure as teens compared to those without the breathing issue, a new long-term study shows. More...

  • Sleep Apnea Raises Odds for Severe COVID-19

    People suffering from severe obstructive sleep apnea are at a greater risk of catching COVID-19, a new study finds. More...

  • 14 More
    • Do Prescription Sleep Medicines Even Work?

      An estimated 9 million Americans turn to prescription pills when they can't sleep, but a new study of middle-aged women finds taking the drugs for a year or longer may do little good. More...

    • Sleep Disorders Cost U.S. Health Care System Nearly $95 Billion Per Year

      Sleep problems cost America's health care system nearly $95 billion a year and raise the cost of health care by 60%, a new study finds. More...

    • Lullaby Effect: Music Can Speed Your Way to Sleep, Study Finds

      Music hath charms to soothe you off to slumber, new research suggests. More...

    • 'Disrupted' Sleep Could Be Seriously Affecting Your Health

      Waking up briefly throughout the night may do more than leave you feeling grumpy and tired in the morning. More...

    • Sleepwalking Tied to Higher Odds for Parkinson's in Men

      Men with certain sleep problems, like sleep walking, may be at a higher risk of developing Parkinson's disease, a new study suggests. More...

    • Sleep Issues Are Soaring in U.S. Military: Study

      Serving in the U.S. military can be stressful, and new research suggests the effect of that is showing up in a dramatic increase in two types of sleep problems. More...

    • Grumpy? Depressed? Try a More Regular Sleep Schedule

      A steady sleep routine may do more than keep you well-rested: New research suggests that the more swings in your slumber schedule, the worse your mood and depression symptoms are likely to be. More...

    • FDA Approves 'Tongue Strengthening' Device for Certain Sleep Apnea Patients

      Unlike devices used during sleep, this prescription device is used while awake, and is designed to stimulate and strengthen the tongue so that it doesn't collapse backward and obstruct the breathing airway during sleep. More...

    • AHA News: Sleep Disorders Plague Stroke Survivors – and Put Them at Risk

      People who have strokes or mini-strokes often experience a wide range of sleep disorders in the months that follow, a problem that can put them at increased risk for subsequent strokes, an analysis shows. More...

    • How to Sleep Better in 2021

      If you're like most American adults, you're not getting enough sleep. This could be the year to change that, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), which recommends adults get at least seven hours of sleep each night. A survey conducted in July showed that 85% of adults in the United States get less. More...

    • Once Begun, Insomnia Is Tough to Shake: Study

      Tossing, turning and can't fall asleep? The answer isn't waiting it out -- it's getting help so your insomnia doesn't persist, a new Canadian study shows. More...

    • As REM Sleep Declines, Life Span Suffers

      Deep sleep is essential for good health, and too little of it may shorten your life, a new study suggests. More...

    • Does Taking Screens Away Help Sleep-Deprived Teens?

      Cutting teens' evening screen time can improve their sleep in just one week, a new study finds. More...

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

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