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Strategies to Improve Sleep for Seniors

Being unable to fall asleep or stay asleep is a problem that is encountered by many aging adults. Natural changes in the body, along with less active lifestyles and new medications are just some of the reasons causing a senior to stay awake at night. Fortunately, a number of strategies exist for how to summon sleep for older adults. Rather than weigh you down with a heavy list, Albuquerque Home Care Assistance offers some simple, study-proven suggestions.

  1. Turn off technology.One hour before bed, seniors should turn off their television, computer, laptop, and cell phone. These devices emit blue spectrum light, which prevents the brain from making melatonin. This is a hormone that tells your body it’s time for sleep. Darkness triggers its production.
  2. Create a bedtime ritual.Having a routine primes the mind for sleep. Engage in a relaxing activity before bed such as reading a book, listening to calming music, taking a comfortable shower or bath, or meditating. Meditating in particular leads the mind to a peaceful state. Click here to check out some wonderful, and free, guided meditations, complied by the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center.
  3. Supplement with minerals.Research indicates that the combination of calcium and magnesium is an effective natural sleep aid. Dr. James Balch, author of Prescription for Nutritional Healing, states that a deficiency in calcium and magnesium can cause you to awaken a few hours after turning in and hinder falling back to sleep. Calcium in particular helps the brain produce melatonin.
  4. Spritz lavender.Many studies have demonstrated lavender’s ability to coax sleep. Lavender induces slow-wave sleep, the deep phase of slumber where the heartbeat slows, muscles relax and the brain organizes memories. To obtain the full benefits of lavender, seniors should spritz pure essential oil on a tissue and inhale its dreamy scent while resting in bed.
  5. Breathe deeply. Andrew Weil, a trusted physician, professor, and best-selling author on holistic health, offers the following helpful breathing exercise. You can think of it as your “4-7-8″ exercise. After getting into bed, with your mouth closed, inhale for a count of 4. Hold your breath for 7 counts. Exhale for 8 counts. Repeat the sequence three times.
  6. Adjust caffeine consumption.Try to avoid caffeine after 2 p.m. Caffeine is present in tea, chocolate, soft drinks, energy drinks, coffee, and over-the-counter medicines, such as pain-relievers and cold remedies.
  7. Exercise daily.Just 10 minutes of exercise can improve sleep. Sleep-promoting exercises that are great for seniors and older adults include walking, yoga, and tai-chi. It can also be helpful for you or a professional caregiver to perform exercises with your loved one if they are hesitant about new activities. This will also help to ensure his or her safety.
  8. Consult your doctor.Some medical conditions can cause insomnia. Examples are overactive thyroid, reflux, frequent urination, breathing difficulty, and chronic pain. Consulting with your loved one’s doctor can rule out any medical cause of insomnia. If he or she is anxious, worried, or depressed, ask for resources to help with the coping process. Also, be sure to discuss any medications that your loved one is taking that can interfere with sleep.

If your aging parent or loved one needs help with daily tasks or encouragement with certain activities to help promote sleep, an hourly or live-in caregiver from Home Care Assistance may be the perfect solution. Our caregivers are highly trained and compassionate individuals who can effectively and safely help with a wide range of tasks from nutritious meal preparation and light housekeeping to medication reminders and transportation. To request more information about in-home care, call 505-798-0800 and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation.