By Joy Pape
Last month I wrote about sleep and how many of us have misconceptions about sleep. One misconception is we think our brain rests during sleep, when in reality, we now know it is a time our brain is actively going through needed cycles of sleep stages. I also wrote of the misconception that as we get older we need less sleep, which is not true for all. I also included some tips for better sleep.
One of the tips is to check the medications you are taking. It could be that one or more of them are affecting your sleep. These medications may be over the counter medications or prescription medications. A 2017 poll conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, sponsored by AARP and Michigan Medicine, UM’s academic medical center reported that nearly one half of older Americans have difficulty sleeping and more than a third have used medications to help them sleep. Most of these people have not discussed their sleep problems with their doctor and half thought sleep problems were a natural part of aging.
Sleep medications, prescribed, over the counter and even those touted as “natural” have health risks for all but especially for older adults. The American Geriatrics Society updated their guidelines in 2015 naming many medications used for sleep as inappropriate for use in older adults. Nevertheless, the poll reported 8% of the people 65 to 80 years of age take prescription sleep medications occasionally or regularly. Of those who have problems three or more nights a week, about ¼ use a prescription sleep aid, which are actually only approved for short term use, but these people have been taking them for years.
The poll’s director, Preeti Malani, MD, a University of Michigan physician said, “Although sleep problems can’t be cured by taking a pill, either prescription, over-the-counter or herbal no matter what the ads on TV says, some of these medications can create big concerns for older adults, from falls and memory issues to confusion and constipation, even if sold by without a prescription.”
She adds, and I agree, “The first step for anyone having trouble sleeping on a regular basis should be to talk to a doctor about it.” Non-medical based sleep habits are the first choice for improving sleep. See WestView News March, 2018 issue.
Learn more at:
- 1 in 3 Older Adults Take Something To Sleep But Many Aren’t Talking To Their Doctors:
- Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency— Why Is Sleep Important:
- How Medications May Affect Sleep:
Joy Pape is an internationally known, board certified Family Nurse Practitioner, author, writer, and presenter. She believes that every person is an individual and deserves personalized medical, integrative care, and hope for a healthy and full life. She can be reached at (212) 933-1756 or firstname.lastname@example.org.