5 Strategies for Combatting Insomnia in Seniors

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5 Ways Elderly Can Battle Insomnia

By Lesa Hardiman, 9:00 am on

For seniors who experience insomnia, fatigue can make day-to-day tasks difficult or unmanageable. If your elderly loved one experiences trouble falling or staying asleep on a daily basis, insomnia may be the culprit. To help seniors address the symptoms of insomnia, senior care experts at Home Care Assistance in Grand Rapids discuss five strategies for battling this condition.

1. Follow a Bedtime Routine
A daily regimen can be an effective way to combat insomnia, as the routine can help remind the brain that is it time to sleep. To start, have your loved one set a time to begin winding down for the day and choose an activity that sets the mood for sleep. For some seniors, taking a warm bath or listening to relaxing music at the same time every night can encourage peaceful sleep.

2. Avoid Artificial Light
Recent studies show that artificial light may cause a two-hour delay in the release of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep cycles. To prevent artificial light from affecting your loved one’s sleep, ask him or her to avoid handheld devices, such as mobile phones or e-readers, for at least two hours before bedtime and reduce ambient lighting in the home about an hour before bedtime.

3. Go Outdoors
Healthy sleep cycles depend on natural light for the release of melatonin. Exposure to sunlight can also help decrease depression and stress, which can both contribute to insomnia. If your loved one can’t spend a few hours engaging in an outdoor activity, sitting in a sunny window for a few hours each day may have similar effects.

4. Gardening
Gardening is an outdoor activity that many seniors can participate in. As gardening demands physical and mental exertion and requires that your loved one spend sometime in natural sunlight, this activity can help your loved one fall asleep faster. Plus, gardening regularly may help improve mobility, particularly for those with arthritis. If your loved one uses a wheelchair he or she may also enjoy gardening by installing raised bed gardens in accessible areas or by planting favorite herbs in containers on windowsills.

5. Dietary Changes
Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine are stimulants that can interfere with your loved one’s sleep cycle. Ask your loved one’s hourly or 24-hour caregiver in Grand Rapids to limit your loved one’s caffeine intake and to help him or her avoid drinking alcoholic beverages before bed to encourage better sleep. Near bedtime, your loved one should also limit his or her water consumption, as waking to urinate can cause difficulty falling back asleep.

If insomnia persists after taking steps to encourage good sleep cycles, consult a physician. As some medications can interfere with falling and staying sleep, your loved one’s physician may be able to help find a solution that works for your loved one. If you’re looking for other ways to help promote your loved one’s health and wellness, Home Care Assistance can help, offering a variety of in-home care services, including assistance navigating the home, cooking, cleaning, and personal grooming. To learn more about our care services, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia care in Grand Rapids, give an experienced Care Manager a call a 616-243-0835 and schedule a complimentary in-home consultation.