Elderly Sleeping Too Much

It is common for people to become light sleepers when they grow old. Many find it difficult to sleep through the night due to the need to use the bathroom or achy joints. Sometimes, people try to catch a restorative nap during the day to make up for their lost sleep, and that is quite normal. You may have to worry a bit when you have an elderly sleeping too much. But, exactly how much is too much? Should you talk to your doctor when an elder spends a lot of time sleeping throughout the day? Let's find out more.

Possible Reasons Why Some Old People Sleep All Day Long

Having an elderly sleeping too much can be a concern, and it really helps to find out more about the underlying causes of excessive sleep. Here are some of the reasons of excessive sleep in older adults.

1. Depression

Older adults may experience sleep problems due to depression. It can affect their appetite, energy, sleep, and interest in hobbies, work, or relationships. Unfortunately, most seniors fail to identify these symptoms in time and take no steps to treat it. Some seniors are simply reluctant to talk about their symptoms, while others are so isolated that no one notices their depression symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms of depression are sadness, lack of energy, feelings of despair, fixation on death, slow movement and speech, loss of self-worth, and sleep disturbances (difficult falling asleep or daytime sleepiness).

2. Bored with Life

An elderly sleeping too much may not have any underlying condition at all. Daytime sleepiness may not be a symptom of a medical condition in some cases – maybe the person is just bored with life. Boredom is a serious issue for senior citizens and they may start sleeping more when their mental, physical, and emotional needs are neglected. Boredom can lead to several emotional issues, such as feelings of intense restlessness, feelings of worthlessness, feeling of uncared about, and feelings that life is not worth living. This often leads to depression that can cause sleep disturbances.

3. Effects of Medications

Senior citizens often have to take certain medications to treat certain medical conditions, and these medications can cause several side effects, including drowsiness or daytime sleepiness. Antihistamine drugs, usually prescribed for hives, allergies, and eczema, may cause symptoms like difficulty urinating, blurred vision, confusion, constipation, and drowsiness. Some drugs prescribed for Parkinson's disease, such as Benztropine and Trihexyphenidyl can cause several side effects including drowsiness.

Cardiovascular drugs that affect blood vessels can also lower blood pressure and cause dizziness. Moreover, statins and fibrates (to treat high cholesterol), ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers (to treat hypertension), proton pump inhibitors (to treat GERD), and Benzodiazepines (to treat agitation and anxiety disorder) can all cause fatigue and sleepiness.

4. Dementia

Daytime sleepiness and drowsiness may sometimes indicate dementia in elderly people. Dementia is actually a general term for an overall decline in mental ability. It leads to a decline in memory as well as other thinking skills that reduce a person's ability to handle everyday tasks. Many people with dementia develop an abnormal sleep pattern. They may not sleep at night and feel sleepy during the day. This usually happens because the way brain controls sleep changes in dementia. Therefore, if you have an elderly sleeping too much at night and taking frequent daytime naps, this could be an early warning sign of dementia.

5. Alzheimer's Disease

Sleep problems are going to be more pronounced in senior citizens with Alzheimer's disease. The disease causes brain changes that lead to a variety of sleep problems, including nighttime wandering, difficulty sleeping, changes in sleep-wake cycle, and daytime napping. Studies show that older adults with Alzheimer's spend more than 40% of their nighttime awake in bed and sleep more often during the day.

6. Brain Tumor

An elderly who complains about pressure in the head and headaches and suddenly starts sleeping more often may have a brain tumor. Excessive sleep during the day may indicate a tumor – though it is not always the case. It may be a cause of concern if a person becomes unconscious, have headaches, and experiences seizures too. It is import to see a neurosurgeon for further evaluation.

Should You Worry?

Excessive daytime sleepiness is usually the outcome of boredom for older adults, but it could also be due to dementia, Alzheimer's, and even a brain tumor. It is important to watch out for other symptoms along with excessive sleeping. You should take your older adult to a doctor if excessive drowsiness or daytime sleeping is accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • They have lost interest in life and have low energy all the time
  • They complain about severe headaches, dizziness, and nausea
  • They cannot sleep at night due to sleep disruption caused by sleep apnea or other sleep disorder
  • They fail to remember things and cannot return home when they go out
  • They are confused and agitated all the time

Is There Anything You Can Do to Help?

It is important to identify sleep problems in older adults. If you really find an elderly sleeping too much, you may want to learn more about the underlying cause first. This could be a warning sign of dementia, so you need to have a correct diagnosis first. Your doctor will help you develop a plan to improve things a bit.

Similarly, you may want to consider the medications you are giving to an elderly in your home. See if they are taking antipsychotic medications, antihistamines, cardiovascular medications, or other medications to treat a medical condition. Talk to your doctor and ask about the side effects of these medications. They may change the prescription to see if it improves the condition of the patient.

What's more, Alzheimer's disease can cause sleep disruptions and sleep problems, but you can help the patient by establishing a nighttime routine as well as a daytime routine that includes a degree of physical activity. Sometimes, an older adult in your home feels a bit left out, and this makes them feel bored and depressed. The solution is to sit with them, talk to them, and involve them in your day-to-day activities to make them feel active throughout the day.

 
 
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