Nearly one in two Taiwanese 65 or older has trouble sleeping at least once a week and about 25 percent of them suffer from chronic insomnia, new research by the Taiwan Society of Sleep Medicine shows.
The research found that about 50.8 percent of Taiwanese 65 and older experience difficulty falling asleep, shallow sleep or early morning waking at least once a week.
The prevalence rate of chronic insomnia in people in this age group was 27 percent, which means about one in four are plagued by long-term sleep problems.
“There is likely a link between increasing age and sleep difficulties, given that the estimated prevalence of insomnia in people aged between 19 and 59 is only 19.3 percent,” society director-general Lin Chia-mo (林嘉謨) said.
“It may be attributed to a higher susceptibility to physical pain and illness among elderly people,” Lin said.
Elderly people with chronic sleep disorders are also more prone to be overly anxious about sleep, to exaggerate the negative effects of insomnia and to develop bad sleeping habits, the research found.
Wu Chia-shuo (吳家碩), chairman of the association’s mass education committee, said such inappropriate perceptions of sleep could lead to increased anxiety and a greater chance of developing bad sleeping habits, which in turn could result in a greater chance of acquiring insomnia.
“People with insomnia are advised to try some relaxing activities half an hour to an hour before bedtime to help calm their body and mind,” Wu said.
“They should also seek medical assistance from qualified and professional clinical psychologists if they continue to experience anxiety and fear of sleep,” he said.