Aging, Sleep and Your Gut, Changes and Warning Signs

Aging, Sleep and Your Gut, Changes and Warning Signs

Published: Jul 14th, 2020

It starts to happen as we get older. Sleep can become more difficult. You probably have experienced it - our mind races, and our gut sometimes does not cooperate. All we want is a good night's sleep. The need for sleep is even more important as we get older.

Our sleep patterns change. These changes are a normal part of getting "more mature" (a nicer way to say we are getting older). We wake up more often. Sometimes we have to get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Other times our stomach might be keeping us up.

According to the National Institute of Health, our total sleep time starts to decrease. Often, we find it harder to fall asleep. The transition between sleep and waking up can become abrupt, making people feel like they are a lighter sleeper compared to when they were younger.

We Wake More Often Every Night

Since older people wake up an average of 3 or 4 times each night, there is less time spent in a deep sleep. According to Harvard Medical School, poor sleep increases amyloid deposition. The problem is amyloid deposition compromises the quality of your sleep. They report that those people who have Alzheimer's disease are prone to sleep problems. The problems include insomnia at night and excessive sleeping during the day.

As we age, we sometimes face problems with our digestive system. In turn, this will add difficulties with sleep. The problems with our gut are due, in part, due to years of effects from our diet. Things like lifestyle, medical issues, and even medications we take add to the problem.

Both your quality sleep and digestive health go together. Kelly Jones, RD, LDN says that your routine at bedtime can support your gut and digestive health and help your sleep and overall health.

In an article on Well and Good, Jones is quoted as saying it is best to stick to consistent meal times, particularly with dinner. The article offers five ideas to do before you go to bed that you can try.

Be Aware of the Gut Warning Signs

You should be aware of several warning signs that your gut issues and related problems may be a more significant health issue that a doctor needs to address. The Canadian Society of Intestinal Research says you should see your doctor if you face a sudden onset of the following symptoms:

  • bleeding/anemia
  • unplanned weight loss
  • fever
  • nocturnal bowel movements
  • family/personal history of colon cancer

Remember, doctors say insomnia is the most common sleep problem in adults age 60 and above. Many medical issues can make the situation worse. Whether it's our gut, bladder, aches and pains, sleep apnea, anxiety, drug and alcohol use, and the medications we take all factor into the problem.

The bottom line is that getting good sleep adds to our energy and overall medical and physical health as we get older. Being proactive and seeing your doctor regularly will ease your aging and health problems.

Longevity Brings Challenges for Family and Finances

Longevity has its benefits, but a long life also brings problems. One of them is a higher risk of needing help with everyday living activities. As we age, our risk of needing long-term care services also goes up. With aging also comes a higher risk of cognitive decline. Memory issues bring the need for supervision.

This extended care is costly. The cost of a nursing home averages over $100,000 a year. Home care and assisted living are also very expensive. The LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator will show you the current and future cost of care where you live.

You will either pay for care form your savings and income, or your family will become your future caregiver. Sometimes it means both. When you prepare for the financial costs and burdens that come with getting older or other health issues, you will reduce the stress on your family as you safeguard your savings.

For many American families having a Long-Term Care Insurance policy in place is an essential part of retirement planning. It will not prevent you from needing extended health care, but it will safeguard your family's assets and ease the stress otherwise placed on those we love. However, the policy might reduce some of the stress in your gut caused by anxiety.

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