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Insomnia in Your Golden Years

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Insomnia is a common problem among the aging and elderly population. An occasional fitful night does not generally cause problems, but chronic sleeplessness can lead to fatigue, increased irritability, anxiety and difficulty focusing or paying attention. While a number of prescription sleep aids like Ambien or Lunesta are available, there are also more natural ways to help treat sleeplessness. Below are three changes you can make for your loved one to help them deal with this condition, provided by the Naples live-in care experts at Home Care Assistance.

  1. Have a “Wind Down” Period – Insomnia can be worse if someone is stressed or keyed up before going to bed. To help prevent this, talk with your loved one about having a “wind down” time of at least an hour before turning out the lights. A quiet activity like reading or listening to music can help your loved one start to relax and prepare for sleep. Try to start this “wind down” around the same time each day, so that he or she will get into a habit of relaxation before bedtime.
  2. Restrict Fluids during the Evening – If your loved one wakes up several times in the night to urinate, falling back asleep again can be hard. Nighttime trips to the bathroom when someone is tired or disoriented can also lead to a fall. Restricting fluid intake, especially after dinner, can help your loved one wake up fewer times because of a full bladder. You might also try restricting drinks with caffeine or alcohol that can cause wakefulness and increase urination.
  3. Consider Natural Supplements – Melatonin is a common and effective sleep aid. It is a hormone produced naturally by your body and, when taken orally, promotes relaxation and a natural sleep cycle. Popular herbs to help promote restfulness include valerian root, kava-kava, lavender and hops. These can be taken alone, but some supplements will contain a combination of herbs to induce healthful sleep.

These are all ways to help achieve a good night’s sleep without resorting to prescription sleep aids. Studies have also shown that these sleep tactics may also be beneficial in providing care for seniors with dementia and Parkinson’s, conditions with symptoms that commonly make a full night’s sleep difficult to achieve. As always, be sure to consult with your physician before beginning any new herb or dietary supplement to make sure it will not interact with your loved one’s current medications.

New to caregiving? Click here and visit our website to learn more about senior care and take a look at options for respite. When caring for an aging parent or loved one, it’s just as important that you get enough sleep and take proper care of own needs to ensure that you are the best caregiver you can be. If you would like to speak with a Care Manager directly, call 239-449-4701 today.

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