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Food Choices to Help Seniors Get Enough Sleep

Sleep patterns are likely to change as people age. Statistics show that 43 percent of seniors experience at least one of the night time symptoms of insomnia a few nights every week. Naturally, elderly people need little less sleep or wake up more at night. However, if restless nights are causing issues during the day and you cannot attribute it to illness or medication, you might wish to try a bit of food therapy.

Foods that Promote Sleep for Senior Nutrition

  • Fruits Rich in Nutrients – A lot of fruits have minerals such as magnesium and potassium that help in promoting sleep by calming the nervous system and relaxing the muscles. Bananas area a good choice. Apart from being rich in magnesium and potassium, they have the amino acid tryptophan which induces sleep. The brain converts tryptophan into melatonin and serotonin, a neurotransmitter which promotes relaxation. Cherries also contain melatonin, a hormone which promotes sleepiness and fruits such as peaches, apples and apricots have plenty of magnesium.
  • Complex carbohydrates – Mashed sweet potato with hone is a great bedtime treat. Together with whole grains such as popcorn, jasmine rice or oatmeal, sweet potato is a great source of complex carbohydrates that can help in increasing tryptophan levels. A small bowl of cereal or oatmeal, low-calorie, high-fiber popcorn and wholegrain crackers that have a bit of lean protein are great choices. Attentive Care, Inc recommends eating oatmeal as it is rich in calcium, phosphorus, potassium, silicon and magnesium.
  • Lean protein – These are also high in tryptophan. You do not wish to consume plenty of protein or anything deep-friend or high in fat; however, a bit of low-fat cheese on crackers, rice cake with fish or lean turkey or a dab of peanut butter on a banana can be satisfying and sleep-promoting.
  • Heart-healthy fats – Aside from boosting heart health, unsaturated fats will improve your serotonin levels. Think peanut butter, avocados and nuts like almonds, walnuts, pistachios and cashews. Almonds, for example, are rich in protein and magnesium that promotes muscle relaxation. It is just important to avoid unhealthy saturated trans fats and fats that decrease the levels of serotonin an make sleep more elusive.
  • Warm drinks – As with other dairy products, milk has tryptophan. And it is an excellent source of calcium that helps in regulating melatonin production. Warm milk with a dash of honey is quite soothing. Also, decaffeinated herbal teas can help, especially relaxing herbs such as peppermint or chamomile. A lot of people think drink teas that have added valerian root which is an herb which used as a natural sedative.

What to Avoid Before Bed

A number of edible foods and may seek tempting as night time treats; however, a lot of them have negative effects on rest and sleep. Below are some tips on what not to eat before bed.

  • Eating too much before bed because this can result in indigestion and weight gain.
  • Anything which upsets the digestive system such as spicy foods or greasy foods.
  • Eating big amounts of protein that can be tough to digest.
  • Drinking caffeinated beverages for a minimum of three hours before bed.
  • Excessive sweets. Diets that are high in refined sugar can result in indigestion and trigger surges of insulin which interfere with the hormones which impact sleep.
  • Using alcohol in order to try to fall asleep because even if this can initially make you sleepy, it impacts the quality of sleep in a negative way.
  • Taking too much liquid before going bed. Liquid intake must be limited, especially for older people. It takes around ninety minutes for the body to process liquids, thus liquid intake must be limited for at least 90 minutes before bedtime when the need to urinate wakes you up at night.

A good night’s sleep is important for better health and more energy. If you cannot stay asleep or fall asleep know that sleep deprivation can result in mental and physical health problems like sundowning, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and providers of health care in Williamstown NJ would suggest seniors to consider a sleep-inducing bedtime treat to help with sleep issues.