Why Do So Many Seniors Struggle To Sleep
Experiencing difficulty sleeping as one ages is not at all unusual. Some of the most common reasons why elderly individuals struggle to get restful sleep include:
- Stress. Old age can bring a variety of stressors, from financial difficulties to physical impairments. Stress has long been known to be a sleep disrupter, keeping our brains active and frantic when we should be resting.
- Less Physical Movement. As we age, more limited physical ability means that our bodies become increasingly less active. While this is normal, lack of movement can shift our circadian rhythms out of whack.
- Health Issues. Many seniors suffer from sleep-disrupting health issues such as arthritis, chronic pain, etc.
- Schedule Changes. A consistent schedule is typically thought to be conducive to restful sleep, such as a consistent bedtime and waking time. However, caregiver assistance or other responsibilities may make keeping the same schedule difficult for older individuals.
How To Improve Sleep Using All
According to a survey conducted by the CDC , an estimated 4 percent of U.S. adults rely on prescription sleep aids to combat insomnia. Ambien, Lunesta, Restoril, Sonata, and Halcion have become household names. Widespread adoption of prescription sleeping pills and habit-forming sleep medicines are not only a global health concern, but theyre temporary solutions to underlying problems.
Chronic sleep deprivation and dangerous medications have led to the rise of many natural sleep aids and over the counter remedies to try to address insomnia. These supplements provide alternative pathways through all-natural and herbal homeopathic treatments aimed at improving sleep in a safer fashion. The goal of this article is to educate on safe non-prescription sleep aids for both children and adults.
Natural Products Which Have Proven To Be Effective For Sleeping From Our Laboratory
A number of medicinal plants are traditionally endowed with anxiolytic or sedative properties. This has motivated the searching of phythotherapeutic agents, which has been used in animal behavioral experiments performed by surgery . In this context, there is a lot of information in medicinal plants possessing sedative and hypnotic properties. Here, we describe some natural products studied in our laboratory. These are magnolia , Semen zizyphi spinosae , sinomenine , decursinol , rosemary , Euphoria longan , Ginseng , EGCG , Chrysanthemum morifolium , Apigenin and some others that possess sedative effects .
Chemical structures originated from natural products which have been to be effective for sleep from our laboratory.
Sinomenine, an alkaloid derived from Sinomenium acutum, is a chief ingredient that has been reported to have a variety of pharmacological properties including anxiolytic effects . From a recent experiment, sinomenine enhanced pentobarbital-induced sleeping behaviors, and modulate sleep architecture via GABAA-ergic systems in rodents, ultimately increasing NREM sleep.
However, cordycepin increased theta waves power density during NREM sleep. Adenosine receptors subtypes were over-expressed by cordycepin, and they are showing non-specific AR activation .
Recommended Reading: Explain The Difference Between Hiv And Aids
The Problem With Sleeping Pills
While sleeping pills increase total sleep time and may reduce nighttime awakenings, they disrupt normal sleep architecture. Specifically, many significantly impair the ability to reach the deeper stages of non-REM sleep as well as REM sleep. This effect has been known for a long time and is the main reason these drugs often produce the feeling of a morning “hangover.” In contrast, several natural sleep enhancers appear to actually increase the time spent in the deeper levels of non-REM sleep allowing for the brain and body to get fully recharged.
Both prescription and over-the-counter drugs are associated with significant risks. The prescription drugs are highly addictive and produce side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, and impaired coordination. That is why you should not drive while on these drugs. And alcohol adds fuel to the fire with these side effects.
The most serious side effects of both prescription and over-the-counter sedative drugs relate to their effects on memory and behavior in the short term and an increased risk for depression, cognitive decline, and early death in the long term.1 The link with an increased risk for early death is particularly concerning. As of December 2020, over 24 population-based studies have shown this link. It may mean that the use of sleeping pills is just an indicator of stress, anxiety, insomnia, and depression. All of these factors are also associated with an increased risk for early death.
Stretch Yourself To Sleep
Anxiety keeping you up? Research suggests mild stretching can help take the edge off and relax muscles that have become stiff and sore after a long day. Were not talking intricate yoga poses or acrobatics here, either: Simple stretches like an overhead arm stretch and bending over to touch your toes should do the trick. Ramp up the relaxation potential with a soundtrack of ambient noise at a volume thats just barely audible. There are plenty of white noise apps that are free to download, but soft music can work as well . Just remember, if youre using an electronic device to play these sleep-promoting sounds, make sure its placed screen-down so youre not distracted by the light it emits.
These are the best songs to help you sleep, according to science.
Recommended Reading: Aids Capital Of The Us
The Best Natural Sleep Aids Are The Ones Money Cant Buy
Itâs 1:45 a.m., and youâre wide awake. After tossing and turning and trying to fall asleep for well over an hour, you reach for your phone and start Googling desperately: âbest natural sleep aid,â âsleep supplements,â âinsomnia cures,â âWhat is wrong with me, and why canât I fall asleep?â
Your queries produce seemingly endless results â from herbal supplements and prescription sleeping pills to meditation apps and essential oils. Next thing you know, 45 minutes have passed, and youâve worked yourself into a search frenzy that has only made you more anxious and restless.
As anyone who has found themselves sleeplessly slipping down a similar rabbit hole can attest: Sleep problems are beyond frustrating. And not getting the sleep your body needs can cause a cascade of symptoms that may feel more like an avalanche: excessive daytime drowsiness, low energy, irritability, brain fog, and loss of productivity.
Well, what if we told you that the best natural sleep aid isnât something you can buy? Itâs something you can do â and it wonât require you to get out your credit card or arrange for shipping.
Takeaways For A Restful Slumber
There are numerous natural sleep aids that can help you get a better nights sleep, so you can wake up feeling refreshed and energized.
Choosing natural solutions like the ones above can also be great for your overall well-being. They can support your bone health, boost your mood, and contribute to a more restful sleep.
Have a natural sleep aid tip we missed? Or, perhaps a product you cant live without? Feel free to share your story with our community!
Also Check: Anti Hiv 1 2 Test Positive
What’s Your Burning Health Question
Are noisy joints a sign of arthritis? Will going vegetarian reduce your cancer risk? Does mould cause asthma?
We can’t diagnose your health problems, but if you’ve got a burning question of a general health nature, get in touch via and we’ll take it to the experts.
It’s hard to know, because like many natural products, there’s little solid evidence behind them, says chair of the Australian Sleep Health Foundation Professor David Hillman.
The level of supporting research behind different herbal sleep remedies varies from herb to herb.
The best results so far are for kava, passionflower, valerian and hops. But even for these, there’s little convincing evidence they work as claimed.
In many cases, including chamomile, there’s been virtually no quality research to make a judgement either way.
Find Yourself A 3 Am Friend
Some of us are lucky to have a 3 a.m. friendthat close confidant you can call up in the wee hours knowing that they wont hold it against you in the morning. Although its great to have someone to talk to when you want to fall asleep, its important that the conversation doesnt just rehash the anxieties that are preventing you from catching shut-eye in the first place. Rather than using the call to seek solutions for those issues, talk about things that calm your nerves, or even have them assist you in deep breathing. It may sound silly, but doing a series of deep, relaxing breaths can help you let go of the troubles that are keeping you wide awake.
Heres what can happen when you start meditating every day.
Don’t Miss: How Can You Pass Hiv
Are Sleep Aids Safe During Pregnancy
Sleep can be difficult during pregnancy and expecting parents may be tempted to reach for natural remedies, like 5-HTP, or melatonin, that helped them sleep prior to becoming pregnant. However, theres not enough evidence to claim that natural sleep aids are safe during pregnancy, and some could even pose risks. Very few human trials regarding the safety of using sleep aids during pregnancy exist.
If you are pregnant and suffering from poor sleep, speak with your doctor to discuss options that may be available to help.
A Bedtime Routine Like No Other
Struggling with low-quality sleep and need a bit of extra support to regulate your natural sleep cycle? Discover Prima Sleep Tight softgels.
Melatonin Receptor Agonist Hypnotic Sleeping Pills
Ramelteon is the newest type of sleep medication and works by mimicking the sleep regulation hormone melatonin. It has little risk of physical dependency but still has side effects. It is used for sleep onset problems and is not effective for problems regarding staying asleep.
Ramelteons most common side effect is dizziness. It may also worsen symptoms of depression and should not be used by those with severe liver damage.
Also Check: How Many People In America Have Hiv
How To Increase Melatonin Levels Naturally
You can increase your melatonin levels without supplementing.
A few hours before bedtime, dim all lights at home and avoid watching TV and using your computer or smartphone.
Too much artificial light can reduce the production of melatonin in your brain, making it harder for you to fall asleep .
You can also strengthen your sleep-wake cycle by exposing yourself to plenty of natural light during the day, especially in the morning (
Natural Sleep Aids That Really Work
By Kyra Oliver
Our sleep is precious time that allows our bodies to heal and rejuvenate, and without enough sleep, our health suffers. That means we must find ways to get proper rest. Unfortunately, many people either cant sleep or dont get enough sleep, which is where natural sleep aids come in.
The amount of sleep needed each night varies, but for adults, getting at least seven hours every night is crucial to having a healthy mind and body. And when we dont get enough sleep, our bodies arent the only things that suffer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that a whopping 49.2 million people have trouble with focus due to lack of sleep, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrationreported that millions nod off while driving!
Luckily, this problem doesnt have to continue. Its all about making some lifestyle changes, like using the following safe, natural sleep aids and focusing on getting the sleep you need, in order to stay refreshed, alert and at your absolute best.
Recommended Reading: How Do Gay Men Get Aids
Rem : Dreaming Active Sleep
Aptly named, REM sleep is the rapid side to side movement of your eyes behind closed eyelids.
REM sleep typically occurs about 90-minutes after you fall asleep. Although a whopping 75% of sleep is non-REM, both your body and mind benefit greatly from REM sleep. I know, its hard to believe that only a quarter of your sleep is REM, yet, its so important.
See, REM sleep can counteract forgetfulness and promote healthy memory function. This is also the stage where dreaming occurs. While your body is fully relaxed, your brain is completely active.
As your body cycles through the stages of sleep, you should be energized in the morning. If youre waking up groggy or not refreshed, youre likely not getting enough good REM sleep.
Make A Hot Cup Of Herbal Tea
Tea is an ancient practice. Chamomile, valerian root and magnolia tea are all natural remedies for anxiety, stress and insomnia. Drink a cup of one of these herbal teas at least an hour to two hours before bed — this gives you time to relax, enjoy the tea and use the bathroom before lights off. Be sure to look at the nutrition label to make sure no caffeine has been added to the ingredients.
Also Check: Is Hiv Easy To Catch
Persistent Insomnia Talk To Your Doctor
In some cases, even flawless sleep hygiene is just not enough. If sleepless nights are negatively impacting your health or quality of life, itâs probably time to consult your healthcare provider or a sleep specialist. He or she might recommend relaxation techniques or cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia .
If it turns out that your chronic insomnia stems from a sleep disorder or another underlying health condition, your doctor may want to explore treatment options tailored to your specific issues before addressing their associated sleep problems.
Hop In The Tub For A Bath
“Baths are the ultimate ‘natural’ way to get better sleep,” Rodgers says. “What’s more natural than hot water?”
A bath provides many benefits for sleep, he explains. The first benefit being that a bath can alter your body temperature. Typically, in the hour before falling asleep, most people’s core body temperature dropsthis is part of the body’s natural circadian process. But warm baths can facilitate this process, starting by increasing your circulation.
“To get body temperature back to a normal level, the body releases the heat, leading to overall reduced temperature,” Rodgers says. “If baths are taken at the right biological time , this natural circadian process is boosted, increasing the chance of falling asleep quicker as well as experiencing better sleep quality.”
But that’s not allbaths carry a ton of other benefits including improving mood, relaxing muscles, reducing some cold symptoms, and soothing the skin.
“To optimize your bath for sleep, you can listen to relaxing music, light a candle, use epsom salts, and warm your bath towel.” Rodgers says. “If you plan on taking a long bath and are in need of some entertainment, read a book.” If you’re feeling tempted to stream something on Netflix while luxuriating in your pre-sleep bath, think again. Avoiding screens will help you fall asleep quicker.
You May Like: What Test Is Done For Hiv
Side Effects Of Melatonin: What Are The Risks
Melatonin is a hormone and dietary supplement commonly used as a sleep aid.
Although it has an outstanding safety profile, melatonins growing popularity has raised some concerns.
These concerns are mainly due to a lack of research on its long-term effects, as well as its wide-ranging effects as a hormone.
This article reviews the potential side effects of melatonin supplements.
Melatonin is a neurohormone produced by the pineal glands in your brain, mainly at night.
It prepares your body for sleep and is sometimes called the hormone of sleep or hormone of darkness.
Melatonin supplements are frequently used as a sleep aid. They help you fall asleep, improve sleep quality, and increase sleep duration. However, they dont appear to be as effective as many other sleep medications .
Sleep isnt the only body function melatonin affects. This hormone also plays a role in your bodys antioxidant defenses and helps regulate blood pressure, body temperature, and cortisol levels, as well as sexual and immune function .
In the United States, melatonin is available over the counter. Since June 2021, it has also been available over the counter in Australia for people over 55 .
In contrast, its a prescription drug in most European countries and approved for use only in older adults with sleep disorders (
However, the Food and Drug Administration has neither approved its use nor evaluated its safety in children.
Recommended Dosage For Anxiety
For anxiety, take 120 to 200 mg, three times per day. Your last dose of valerian root should be right before bedtime.
The recommended dosage for anxiety is generally lower than the dosage for insomnia. This is because taking high doses of valerian root during the day can lead to daytime sleepiness.
If youre sleepy during the day, it might make it difficult for you to participate in your usual daytime activities.
Recommended Reading: Can You Get Hiv From Someone On Medication
Other Risks Of Sleeping Pills
Drug tolerance. You may, over a period of time, build up a tolerance to sleep aids, and you will have to take more and more for them to work, which in turn can lead to more side effects.
Drug dependence. You may come to rely on sleeping pills to sleep, and will be unable to sleep or have even worse sleep without them. Prescription pills, in particular, can be very addictive, making it difficult to stop taking them.
Withdrawal symptoms. If you stop the medication abruptly, you may have withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, and shaking.
Drug interactions. Sleeping pills can interact with other medications. This can worsen side effects and sometimes be dangerous, especially with prescription painkillers and other sedatives.
Rebound insomnia. If you need to stop taking sleeping pills, sometimes the insomnia can become even worse than before.
Masking an underlying problem. There may be an underlying medical or mental disorder, or even a sleep disorder, causing your insomnia that cant be treated with sleeping pills.
Some serious risks of sleeping pills
Sedative-hypnotic medications can cause severe allergic reaction, facial swelling, memory lapses, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts or actions, and complex sleep-related behaviors like sleep-walking, sleep-driving and sleep-eating . If you experience any unusual sleep-related behavior, consult your doctor immediately.