Many older adults experience some trouble falling or staying asleep. It is normal for hormonal and other natural changes to cause your internal body clock to shift throughout your life.
Senior citizens still require the same amount of sleep as younger adults, and should take good care in getting adequate amounts for overall improved functioning. Benjamin Franklin said, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” In the case of older adults, this old adage is particularly true; The circadian rhythms of senior citizens are especially geared toward going to sleep early and arising early.
Below are some tips to getting a good night’s sleep.
Setting a routine can be very helpful in maintaining natural circadian rhythms.
- Set a regular sleep schedule and stick to it. Try to go to bed the same time each night and awake the same time each day.
- Try to set a regular exercise routine for the same time each day
- Eat meals the same time each day
- Go outside and get sun, which helps the body regulate the wake and sleep cycle
- Only drink caffeinated beverages during the day, before 3pm.
Prepare Your Room for Sleeping
Make the place you sleep relaxing, comfortable and without distractions.
- Keep your bedroom dark, simple and clutter free
- Use your bed only for sleeping and sex
- Get rid of electronics and clocks in the bedroom
Thirty minutes to an hour before bed, try to set up a relaxation routine. Make sure all electronic devices are turned off, especially the television. Here are some other relaxation tips:
- Pray, meditate or just sit in a quiet, comfortable space
- Consider doing a calming form of exercise for the nervous system. Possibly gentle tai chi, feldenkrais, yoga, etc.
- Enjoy a massage or acupuncture
- Read a book or write in a journal, but choose something enjoyable that requires little brain effort
- Listen to music
- Take a warm bath or shower
Natural Sleep Remedies
- Melatonin is a hormone in the body that controls sleep timing, blood pressure and other physiological functions. At night, your body’s melatonin should naturally increase, while serotonin naturally decreases. If difficulty occurs falling asleep, try these natural foods containing melatonin. Also melatonin supplements can be taken before bed and are available at your local health food store
- Foods containing Melatonin: cherries, apricots, fruits and peaches. Also tuna, salmon, halibut, garlic and pistachios contain high amounts of Vitamin B6, which are then converted to make both melatonin and serotonin, which can help regulate the sleep cycle.
- Magnesium and Potassium are essential minerals for the body. Adequate amounts of magnesium and potassium can help calm the nervous system as well as relax muscles.
Foods containing high amounts of Magnesium: bananas, almonds, dark chocolate
Foods containing high amounts of Potassium: bananas
- Tryptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid that promotes good sleep, while also increasing serotonin level.
Foods containing Tryptophan: turkey, bananas, milk, cheese, walnuts
- Lactucarium has sedative properties and affects the brain much like opium. Lactucarium is in leafy greens such as lettuces and mint
Be cautious about eating too much right before bedtime. Give your body a good hour at least to digest food. It is important the digestive system also gets some rest at night. In general, avoid eating foods that are fried, sugary and/ or spicy, especially at night. Other foods to avoid include heavy meats, alcoholic and caffeinated beverages.
Warm soothing drinks, especially herbal tea, can also help you calm down and sleep deeper. Here are some great options:
- Chamomile is often used for insomnia
- Peppermint is for stress and digestion
- Valerian root is particularly good, as it contains natural sedative properties
- Lavender is for stress and relaxation
- St. John’s Wort is a natural anti-depressant, used to combat anxiety and promote relaxation
Underlying health conditions and medication issues can sometimes prevent senior citizens from getting adequate sleep. It is very important to talk to your doctor about any sleep concerns, so that he or she can check for further issues.
Discovery Village at Deerwood offers a variety of senior living programs to keep seniors healthy and active. Learn about our senior living options and amenities today when you contact us at 904.606.9926.