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Safe Sleep Aids for Seniors

By Marius Butas, 9:00 am on

As a leading provider of senior home care in Mesa, AZ, the experts at Home Care Assistance know all too well that sleep problems are a common issue in older adults. Poor sleep quality and insufficient sleep time can cut energy levels, increase the risk of illness, and contribute to depression. Lack of sleep also hinders motor skills, so the risk of accidents may increase. If your elderly loved one is in need of a good night’s sleep, here are some safe options that can help.

Herbal Tea
Many herbs are known to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality. For instance, chamomile reduces anxiety and soothes mild pain, which can be two significant barriers to sleep. Peppermint tea can be very calming and helps ease digestive upset. Other herbal teas that can support better sleep include ginger, linden flower, orange spice, and cinnamon. However, if your loved one is taking any medications, check with their doctor before using herbal teas. Some herbs can produce dangerous or unpleasant interactions when combined with certain medications.

Aromatherapy

A more passive method of enhancing relaxation and sleep quality is aromatherapy. Essential oils like rosemary, mint, vanilla and sandalwood have been shown to have calming effects on the brain. Some, like lavender, even increase levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes a positive mood and plays a critical role in sleep. Best of all, unlike herb teas, aromatherapy does not present a risk of adverse drug interactions.

Melatonin
Melatonin is a neurotransmitter naturally produced by the brain to cause sleepiness and regulate sleep. Unfortunately, as people age, their melatonin production declines. This can result in insomnia, frequent waking, and an inability to sleep long enough. In some cases, taking an over-the-counter melatonin supplement may correct this issue. However, it’s recommended to speak to your loved one’s doctor first.

Dim the Lights
Suggest to your elderly parent that they shut off the television and avoid any bright lights at least two hours before bed. Studies have shown that blue-wave light, like that emitted by screens and while light bulbs, disturbs melatonin production. Even light coming from street lamps is enough to disrupt this important process, so heavy window coverings are also suggested. If your loved one prefers to read before bed, it’s recommended that they use a yellow light bulb as this color does not interfere with melatonin.

If your loved one lives alone, provide them with detailed, written instructions for using each of these methods (such as a set time to turn down the lights and which lights to turn off). Or, if your senior loved one has a part-time home caregiver in Mesa, have the caregiver carefully go through each of these methods with your loved one so he or she can do them on their own before bed. For more information on senior home care services available through Home Care Assistance of Mesa, call a Care Manager at (480) 699-4899. We offer highly-trained caregivers, 24/7 availability, and no long-term contracts.