The never ending quest for a good night's slee[ may be especially daunting for the over age 55 population. In fact insomnia affects about 50% of people over age 55 and this is of great concern. Older people who do not get enough restorative sleep are at increased risk for serious health concerns like heart disease, obesity, diabetes, memory loss and increased depression. A parallel worrisome issue is that prescribing sleeping pills to this group can put them at increased risk for memory problems, falls, drug dependency-drug withdrawal symptoms-disturbed sleeping patterns.
A researcher at Tel Aviv University has developed a new drug, Circadin, that may just be the answer for sleepless baby boomers. The professor focused on melatonin, a hormone the body makes that affects how our biological functions differentiate between day and night. As we age, melatonin levels go down so our bodies actually feel less of a difference between day and night. Making matters worse, as we age, we nod off in front of the TV, or take afternoon naps and we almost intentionally set ourselves up to sleep less at night. This actually excacerbates the low levels of melatonin, making the melatonin further less effective.
Circadin actually replenishes the much needed melatonin, and clinical trials have shown that people who tried the drug felt that their sleep quality improved and they awoke feeling much more refreshed and alert. So the drug seems to actually help to restore the body's natural time clock (circadian rhythm). Another plus?? Normalized blood pressure and blood sugar levels at night for these patients. What can you do if you fall in this group of boomers until Circadin is available?
- Spend several hours outdoors and get daylight exposure
- Avoid naps exccept for very short (less than 15 minute) ones
- Exercise daily
And in general, follow the usual bedtime rituals that encourage sleep.
Published On: August 22, 2008