It is no secret that our sleep patterns change with age. Older adults often report getting less and less amount of sleep at night. It can lead them to feel tired and groggy throughout the day. In severe cases, sleep disorders can lead to serious health issues. According to a recent study by the University of Maryland, insomnia-related healthcare costs have hit the $100 billion mark.
So, it is crucial to ensure that your senior loved ones are getting enough sleep. Luckily, there are some sleep aids available to help them with insomnia or other sleep disorders. This blog will explore the ten best sleep aids for the elderly. Read on to learn more!
Why Do Older Adults Have Sleep Problems?
According to the Sleep Foundation’s 2022 survey data, about 30 to 48 percent of older adults suffer from various sleep disorders, including insomnia. There are various reasons behind sleep problems in the elderly. Some of them include:
1. Underlying health issues
One of the top causes of sleep problems in the elderly is underlying health conditions such as UTIs, heart problems, Alzheimer’s, or sleep apnea. Also, more than 50% of geriatric patients report sleep difficulties.
2. Medication side effects
Sometimes interactions among different medications cause sleep disturbance in the elderly. For example, steroids or other stimulants in certain medications can lead to wakefulness as they are primarily used to boost energy and mood.
3. Poor sleep hygiene
Many older adults do not maintain proper sleep hygiene, which causes sleep problems. Some examples of poor sleep hygiene are, being on their phones close to bedtime, excessive napping during the day, not having a sleep schedule, etc.
Aging is a natural cause of sleep problems. As we age, the production of melatonin and growth hormones decreases, leading to a reduced amount of deep sleep. Also, the medical conditions that come with aging contribute to sleep disturbance.
When to Try Sleeping Aids?
It is tricky to tell when one should try sleeping aids as everyone’s body and sleep habits are different. However, if you are having trouble sleeping and cannot fall or stay asleep for an extended period, it might be time to try a sleeping aid. It is recommended to take sleeping aids or pills 7 or 8 hours before waking time. But it is good to experiment once in a while to see what works best for you.
6 Natural Sleep Aids for the Elderly
It is always better to opt for natural remedies rather than drugs or pills. The same thing applies to sleep remedies as well. So, let’s check out some of the most effective natural sleep aids for the elderly.
1. Chamomile tea
Multiple researchers have backed Chamomile tea as a safe, natural sleep aid. It may not cure insomnia, but it helps improve the quality of sleep. Apart from that, chamomile has an anti-inflammatory substance that reduces inflammation, bloating, and swelling. It is recommended to take the tea 30 to 45 minutes before bedtime.
2. Melatonin supplements
Melatonin is another natural sleep aid for the elderly. As mentioned earlier, with age, our body produces less melatonin hormone, which disrupts our sleep cycle. Melatonin supplements can help regulate the body’s natural sleep rhythm. However, talking to a doctor before starting the supplement is recommended, as excessive melatonin can lead to various side effects.
Kava is an herbal sleep remedy made from the roots of kava (Piper methysticum). It relaxes your mind and body and is also effective in reducing anxiety and stress. The best time to drink kava is 30 to 45 minutes before bedtime.
4. Warm milk
Warm milk contains tryptophan, a natural sleep aid. When ingested, it is converted into serotonin and melatonin in the brain, which helps to promote sleep. Additionally, warm milk can help to relax the body and create a comfortable environment for sleep.
Lavender is known for its calming and soothing properties. It can be used to help reduce anxiety and stress, promote relaxation, and improve sleep quality. Lavender oil can be diffused in the air, applied topically, or diluted with a carrier oil and applied directly to the skin.
Yes, you read that right! Exercise can help improve sleep quality for the elderly. Physical activity has been proven to increase the amount of deep sleep and shorten the time it takes to fall asleep. It is likely due to the increased production of melatonin and also because our muscles get tired after working out, leading to feelings of sleepiness. So, it’s good for seniors to do some light exercises at night.
4 Best Sleep Aids for the Elderly on Amazon
Here are 4 of the most popular sleep aids for the elderly available on Amazon:
The Alarm Clock & White Noise Sound Machine by Homedics (price: $39.95) is a good purchase from Amazon to help with sleep problems. It has multiple other features, including:
- Indoor temperature sensor
- Auto-off timer
- A digital FM radio
- Projection clock
- Smartphone holder
Doxylamine Succinate (25mg) Tablets are one of the bestselling and top-rated sleep aids on Amazon. It costs $13.65 and contains 96 pills. The tablets have been clinically tested and approved and have been proven to be effective for sleep issues.
These strawberry-flavored gummy melatonin supplements are quite popular with seniors. Mainly because it doesn’t come as regular pills, does not contain any artificial sweeteners, and tastes great! It also helps with jet lag and stress. One bottle contains around 100 gummies and costs about $17.09.
Lavender Essential Oil Roll On by Mapel Holistics is great for aromatherapy and skin care. You can apply it on your temples, necks, or behind your ears to feel the calming effects on your brain. Besides, it is easy to carry and helps you unwind from a hectic day and fall asleep quicker. One bottle of this lavender oil costs $9.99 on Amazon.
A good night’s sleep is crucial for our overall health and well-being, especially as we age. We hope this article will help find the best natural sleep aid for you or your elderly loved one. Just make sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new supplement regimen, particularly if you’re taking medications for other health conditions.
Do you have any favorite natural sleep aides that help you fall asleep faster? Please share those in the comments below, and don’t forget to check out these related articles on our blog:
- Sleep Changes as We Age: Sleep Hygiene Tips
- 7 Side Effects of Melatonin on the Elderly
- 10 Ways to Protect Senior Mental Health
- Sundown Syndrome – Tips to Manage Sundowning in Seniors
Are sleeping pills safe for the elderly?
The safety of sleeping pills for the elderly may vary depending on the individual’s health condition. However, it is generally recommended that elderly people consult their doctor before taking any sleep medication, as they may be more susceptible to the side effects of these drugs.
Is melatonin safe for seniors?
Melatonin is a natural sleep aid and is generally safe to use for the elderly However, it may have some side effects, such as headaches, nausea, grogginess, etc.
Is Ambien safe for the elderly?
Ambien or zolpidem is a sleep aid used to escalate the process of falling asleep. Though it was considered safe to use prescribed doses of Ambien, recently, there have been some reports suggesting its negative side effects on older adults. The drug has been linked with an increased risk of falls and dementia. So, it is recommended not to take Ambien without consulting a professional.
What sleeping pill works better than Ambien?
Alternative medications to Ambien include Lunesta, Restoril, and Silenor. These are all OTC antihistamines for sleep disorders. Besides, melatonin is a good option to aid sleep troubles.
How much sleep does an 85-year-old need?
The amount of sleep an 85-year-old needs varies, but typically, they need about 7-8 hours of sleep.