Four Tips to Help Seniors Sleep Better
Many seniors struggle with insomnia. Sometimes health issues can be the cause; in other cases, older people may have difficulty sleeping due to anxiety or worries about ageing, sleep apnea, or the side effects of medications. While occasional tossing and turning is normal, seniors who consistently don’t sleep well should take steps to remedy the issue. The causes and treatment of insomnia may vary, but here are some tips to help senior citizens get a healthier, more restful night’s sleep.
Wind Down an Hour Before Bed
Studies show that the bright lights of a television, phone, or computer screen can prevent the brain from releasing melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. When you use electronics immediately before bed, the flashing lights send signals to your brain to stay awake. This can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep when you finally do turn off the screens. For this reason, senior citizens should spend the hour before going to bed reading, knitting, or doing other low-key activities that help calm the mind and prepare it for sleep.
Consider Taking Magnesium
Many people in the United States are deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral found in many plant-based foods, including spinach, nuts, and seeds. Magnesium helps regulate the nervous system, and it has been shown to have a calming effect on the mind and body. Taking a small dose of magnesium shortly before going to bed may help seniors calm down before sleeping. Magnesium is a very common supplement available in powder or pill form.
Meditation and Deep Breathing
If a medical condition isn’t the cause of your tossing and turning, it could simply be a sign that you are having difficulty turning off your thoughts. An excellent way to calm the mind is meditation. There are many guided meditation sessions available online, or you can practice on your own simply by focusing your mind on the sensation of breathing. Some people find it helpful to count their breaths, taking a deep, 5-count breath in followed by a long, 5-count breath out. This slow, regulated breathing can help combat insomnia and prepare the mind and body for sleep.
Be Careful With Stimulants
Drinking caffeine or alcohol in the evening or immediately preceding bedtime can alter your sleep patterns. Caffeine is a stimulant that activates the brain; having a cup of black tea or coffee in the evening could keep you awake for hours. Similarly, alcohol influences sleeping patterns. A common misconception is that having a glass of wine or spirits before bed will help you go to sleep faster. This may be true, but the alcohol will disrupt your natural sleep rhythms throughout the night, and you may find yourself constantly waking up. To avoid taxing your body, try to avoid stimulants like coffee, tea, or alcohol in the hours before bedtime.