Is catching a few Zzzs getting harder and harder? Age-related sleep problems can keep you from sound, restful nights. Now more than ever, developing better sleep habits is important. Taking a natural approach to sleep issues can help alleviate some sleep problems for seniors.
If you are a senior who is having trouble sleeping, it’s a good time to revisit your sleep habits and see if you can improve. (Be sure to keep reading for some of the best natural sleep aids for elderly persons to try, along with the importance of discussing poor sleep with your primary Medicare doctor.)
Sleep Habits for Seniors
The best natural sleep aids for the elderly are good sleep habits. These sleep habits are helpful for everyone – but very important for seniors who are having trouble getting good quality rest.
Many health issues worsen without restorative sleep. Sleep loss has been shown to increase depression and memory loss. Many conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and weight problems can be related to lack of sleep. Not to mention how sleepiness can affect how you feel on a daily basis.
Getting the best night sleep possible can be related to six, simple daily habits that anyone can adopt.
1. Keep consistent bedtimes.
Having a consistent bedtime is a good sleep habit at any age. As we get older, and often after we retire, we may lapse on a sleep schedule. But inconsistent sleep patterns can lead to more sleep problems.
Try to establish a bedtime and waking time and stick to that as much as possible.
2. Adopt relaxing nighttime habits.
What do you do to unwind before bed? If you sit in front of a TV or backlit reading device or phone, you might be contributing to sleep issues. Our bodies do best when not exposed to this type of lighting before bedtime.
Try using another light source if you prefer an eReader. Limit TV an hour before your intended bedtime. Then, find something that is soothing and non-stimulating, such as a warm shower or bath.
3. Limit daytime naps.
Many seniors, facing poor sleep quality, add daytime naps that are more harmful than good. Obviously if you are very sleepy, you should take a nap, as sleepiness can increase the risks of falls and other dangers.
But if you can regularly limit naps – taking shorter naps of 5 to 15 minutes – and take them earlier in the day, you will have a better chance at a good night’s sleep.
4. Limit caffeine later in the day.
Coffee and other caffeinated drinks can be disrupting your sleep. If you do enjoy caffeine, try to limit those beverages to earlier in the day. Or try decaffeinated versions of your favorites.
5. Get exercise.
Seniors often get less exercise as they age, and that can lead to sleeping issues. Even short bouts of exercise – a 20 min walk, for instance – can help you feel sleepier at bedtime.
6. Enjoy more social activities.
Many seniors find they have limited social activity or interaction, and this lack of stimulation throughout the day can cause sleep disturbances. If you’re lacking in socialization, find ways to interact.
Talk to your friends or family about ways to get out more often. Seek groups or organizations where you might find stimulating activity and engaging conversations.
Natural Sleep Aids for Seniors
What about natural sleep aids? What are the best natural sleep aids for the elderly? There are some commonly used sleep aids that can be helpful, such as melatonin and chamomile (in tea or supplement form). Many people have found adding them to their sleep habits has improved their quality and quantity of sleep.
But it is important to know some natural sleep aids do interfere with certain medications, so before starting any natural sleep aid, check with your primary care doctor.
What is one of the best natural sleep aids for elderly people?
Other than adopting the healthy sleep habits, try warm milk. Sounds quaint, doesn’t it? But warm milk does seem to help some people with sleep. It’s believed to stimulate tryptophan, which makes you sleepy.
See Your Primary Care Doctor for Sleep Issues
If you’re having trouble sleeping, don’t hesitate to talk to your primary care doctor. There are many reasons why seniors have trouble sleeping, and it can be related to underlying issues, medication, menopause, pain or other causes that your doctor can address.
Don’t have a primary care doctor? We can help. Use our Find a Doctor tool to locate a primary care physician and Medicare doctors in your area. We have compiled a list of caregivers who work under the value-based care model. Learn more at newprimarycare.com™.