How to Manage Sleep Disorders in the Elderly with Ayurveda

Sleep disorder is a condition where you notice a change in your sleeping habit or pattern. As you age you may notice many changes in your body. Similar change occurs in your sleep pattern too. You may also tend to sleep early in the evening and wake up early in the morning. It is ideal to maintain 7-8 hours sleep. Even elderly people require the same amount of sleep as adults.

Causes of Sleep Disorders

  • Decreased physical and mental activities.
  • Associated health issues like joint pain, increased urinary frequency due to BPH or diabetes.
  • Emotional disturbance, stress, depression or anxiety.
  • Irregular sleeping schedule.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Certain medications.
  • More intake of coffee/ tea.

Symptoms of Sleep Disorders

  • Increased daytime sleeping.
  • Irregular breathing pattern.
  • More movements during sleep.
  • Unusual sleep behaviours.
  • Difficulty in falling asleep at night.
  • Hard to stay asleep without disturbance.
  • You will not feel fresh when you wake up.
  • Irritability.

Management of Sleep Disorders

  • Keep yourself physically and mentally active by regular walking, reading, playing some games, etc.
  • If you are taking medications, consult your doctor if it is affecting your health.
  • Avoid sleeping for the longer duration at day time.
  • If you have any pain and aches take proper medication.
  • Reduce the frequency of intake of coffee/ tea. Instead, you can take Chintahara Tea or Tulsi tea, etc.
  • Maintain your sleep timing regularly.
  • Yoga, meditation and pranayama are proved for its beneficial effects in insomnia. Start practising under an instructor.
  • Avoid using computers, smartphones or watching TV before going to bed.
  • Have light dinner and 2-3 hours before going to bed.
  • Keep your sleeping room cool, dark and calm. Avoid keeping a ticking clock in your room.
  • Drink a glass of warm milk with almonds/ pinch of Jatiphala/ a garlic clove before going to bed.

Ayurvedic medicines like Ashwagandha, Jatamansi tablets, Nirogam Calming Kit are also beneficial. 

You can do regular head massage with Brahmi taila, body and foot massage with Ksheerabala taila or Mahanarayana taila followed by a hot water bath.

You can undergo therapies like shirodhara, shiro abhyanga or shiro pichu and abhyanga.

If you have sleep apnea:

  • You need to reduce your body weight by exercise or walking.
  • Use decongestants. You can undergo Nasya therapy.
  • Internally you can take Sitopaladi churna, Yashtimadhu or Pippali with honey.
  • Start practising ‘Neti’ under professional guidance.
  • Avoid curds, refrigerated foods and cold water. Drink lukewarm or hot water to clear your air passage before going to bed.

Additional Reading:

How to Manage Sleepwalking and Sleep Apnea

Easy Home Remedies for Insomnia

Good Night’s Sleep – National Institute on Aging

Sleep and Ageing

All Natural Products For Insomnia & Sleep Apnea

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