A good night’s sleep is essential for optimal mental and physical health, no matter your age. Still, the health conditions, medications, and changes in sleep patterns that often come with age make older adults particularly prone to sleep struggles. According to the American Psychological Association, a lack of rest can then lead to depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, mood swings, and lapses in memory and concentration.
If your elderly loved one is dealing with insomnia or irregular sleep patterns, you might not know where to find help. After all, relying on medicines and supplements to sleep can cause grogginess and confusion the next day, as well as urinary retention and constipation. Fortunately, plenty of natural sleep remedies are available to help seniors achieve a more restful slumber.
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule: Routines are crucial to the health and well-being of older adults, and that includes bedtime routines. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day helps maintain a consistent circadian rhythm.
- Make the bedroom a haven for sleep: Having a dark, cool, and quiet bedroom makes it easier to fall asleep. In addition, seniors should disengage from screen activities at least 30 minutes before bed to prevent the “blue” light from interfering with a good night’s rest.
- Create a bedtime ritual: Winding down at night is an important part of preparing the body and mind for sleep. Stress-relieving activities like reading a book, listening to soothing music, or taking a warm bath are excellent remedies for elderly insomnia.
- Avoid napping excessively: Too much daytime rest can affect the ability to fall asleep at night. Taking a brief afternoon nap is okay, but it’s also important to incorporate enough physical activity throughout the day to encourage healthy nighttime sleep patterns.
- Avoid heavy evening meals: Certain foods tend to cause indigestion, especially in seniors. Therefore, it’s best to avoid eating a heavy dinner or overly sweet dessert too close to bedtime. Instead, try having a light, carbohydrate-rich snack—such as a few crackers or small bowl of cereal—to promote better sleep.
- Consume the right liquids in the evening: Avoid caffeine after lunchtime, and don’t use alcohol as a sleep aid. Instead, opt for warm herbal tea in the evenings. Even then, try to avoid liquids before bed, because a full bladder can wake you up at night.
- Schedule a doctor appointment: If these natural sleep solutions for seniors aren’t enough, consider calling your loved one’s doctor. A thorough medical exam may reveal the underlying cause of insomnia, such as restless leg syndrome, anxiety, depression, or chronic pain.