Getting a good night’s sleep can boost mood, energy levels, physical health, and mental well-being. With so many benefits to staying rested, sleeplessness — especially common in seniors — can pose serious problems. About 48% of older adults exhibit signs of insomnia, compared to less than one-third of the general population, according to the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
A healthy amount of sleep enables the body to fight off disease, and not enough sleep leads to more than just tiredness. Several health conditions linked to lack of sleep include diabetes, obesity, and an increased likelihood of cardiovascular disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Daily exhaustion can also lead to irritability and an increased risk of developing depression.
For seniors in particular, insomnia can aggravate symptoms of dementia, including confusion, depression, and anger, according to the National Institutes of Health. Insomnia can also make sundown syndrome more pronounced. Minimize these risks and protect the health of your senior loved one by incorporating these five, sleep-inducing foods into your loved one’s diet.
Wondering how to fall asleep fast? Reach for the fruit bowl. Not only are fruits a healthy, natural stand-in for sweet cravings, but many also contain magnesium and potassium. Does magnesium help you sleep? The answer is a resounding “yes.”
Proven to help calm the nervous system by regulating stress levels, foods rich in magnesium are an excellent natural sleep remedy for the elderly and can help attain deep sleep easier.
Here are some standout, sleep-inducing fruits:
Complex carbohydrates promote sleep in a couple ways: by triggering natural chemical reactions involving amino acids, and, in many cases, by preventing blood sugar fluctuations that may interfere with rest.
Look out for these complex carbs to help you sleep:
Have you ever heard of a Thanksgiving turkey coma? You can attribute this sleepy sensation to an abundance of tryptophan. Researchers at Purdue University found a strong connection between high-protein diets and high-quality sleep. Proteins like turkey are also considered melatonin foods because serotonin is used to make melatonin, which induces sleep.
Your sleep cycle will love other lean proteins, including fish, meat, and eggs. Allare frequent snack recommendations of Michael J. Breus, a clinical psychologist and fellow at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Their high levels of glycine help lower body temperature, a key component in preparing the body for sleep.
Encourage your senior loved one to boost both their heart health and their serotonin levels with unsaturated fats. Note: Though sleep experts suggest consuming healthy unsaturated fats before bed, they caution against saturated fats and trans fats like pizza, french fries, and cake, which can enhance sleeplessness.
Consider these favorite “good fat” foods for sleep:
A glass of warm milk is a classic bedtime ritual for a reason, but it’s not the only beverage that eases the nervous system.
Drink in good sleep with these calming concoctions:
However, to limit late-night trips to the bathroom, it’s best to introduce these remedies about one to two hours before going to bed.
Just as some foods can stimulate sleepiness, many foods may keep you awake.
Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.
Avoid intense flavors and large meals that counteract sleepiness:
Families can take extra care by consulting a doctor or dietitian. While certain foods to eat before bed can help most seniors, experts can account for more specific dietary concerns.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Study suggests what you eat can influence how you sleep.”
American Sleep Association. “High-Protein Diet Leads to Better Sleep and Weight Loss.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “How Does Sleep Affect Your Heart Health?”
Sleep Foundation. “How Magnesium Can Help You Sleep.”
Sleep Foundation. “The Best Foods To Help You Sleep.”