Many seniors find their sleeping patterns change as they get older. Some diseases, however, such as Alzheimer’s, can mess with sleeping patterns and keep seniors up late at night and sleeping well into the morning instead. If your mom’s health is okay and she’s struggling to fall asleep, her diet may be to blame. Here are some foods that keep people awake at night.
Acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus fruits often lead to heartburn. If heartburn keeps your mom up at night, it’s best she avoids eating anything acidic at least three hours before going to bed. If she doesn’t, elevating her shoulders may help ease some of the heartburn pain. Talk to her doctor about medications that may also help.
Chocolate contains caffeine. It’s that simple. If your mom wants a chocolate treat for dessert, she should eat it a few hours before bedtime. If a decaffeinated substitute is desired, carob or white chocolate are better options.
Coffee and Tea.
While your mom might enjoy a warm cup of coffee or tea before going to bed, the caffeine content may keep her up. If she really can’t go without her nightly cup, keep decaf coffee and herbal teas on hand. Make sure the herbal tea has nothing in it that is caffeinated or is known to boost energy such as ginseng. To avoid early morning bathroom trips, it’s best to stop drinking at least an hour before bed.
Foods that have tyramine make it hard to get to sleep. Tyramine makes the adrenal gland release norepinephrine, which makes the brain stay active. Foods with tyramine include many types of cheese, eggplant, pate, red wine, sauerkraut, smoked meats, sourdough bread, soy sauce, tofu, and tomatoes. If your mom eats these foods, she needs to avoid eating them later in the evening.
Wine and Beer.
Alcohol may help you fall asleep, but it’s also more likely to have you waking up frequently. The problem is that beer, cocktails, and wine all impact REM sleep, which keeps you from sleeping solidly through the night. Your mom should take her last drink a few hours before going to bed. She also should stick to one drink per night.
Stress often prevents seniors from getting a good night’s sleep. If your mom feels stress because she’s alone, call a home care agency to hire someone to spend time with her. A caregiver can help your mom prepare meals that won’t keep her up all night and be there to provide companionship.