Back to Back Issues Page
The Elder-Boomer Buzz, Issue #020 -- Restless Sleepers – Get the Sleep You Need!
March 07, 2010

Issue #20
Restless Sleepers – Get the Sleep You Need!

Did you you by the time we reach age 70 we get half the sleep we did as infants? About 6.6 hours vs. 11.6 hours. And does it matter? I we need more sleep, how do we get it? It is no secret that insomnia becomes an issue as we age. According to the Institute of Medicine, over 50 million Americans experience a sleep disorder.

You’ve probably heard of the concept of using set rituals before bed and keeping the bedroom a sanctuary instead of a Do-Everything-In-It-Including-Paying-Bills room. And watching TV. Here are some of my favorite "proven" sleep aids:
  • Spray or dab a little lavender oil on the pillow before bed. Lavender oil is used in aromatherapy for its calming properties
  • Cozy, flannel sheets, especially in winter
  • A relaxing bath with essential oils or mineral salts
  • Fresh, clean pajamas
  • A good, supportive pillow
  • Doing regular exercise, like gentle yoga (not before bed)
  • Listening to a CD with nature sounds while going to sleep – I like the ocean
  • A relaxation CD just before going to bed– the best I’ve ever used is called the Deep Relaxation Paraliminal, by Paul Scheele of Learning Strategies. It without fail relaxes me and puts me to sleep. No matter what
  • A very dark room with no night lights or LED lights around, if possible
  • No daytime naps if possible
  • Good diet and watching what I eat before bed – no "bad" carbs or sugars
  • My friend swears by a glass of warm milk
A special word about food. You’ve probably heard about tryptophan (lots of it in turkey, which tends to make us sleepy). It’s a vital amino acid and helps regulate serotonin and melatonin in the brain, which are neurotransmitters. They help calm brain activity, over-thinking, and help us relax.

Foods with tryptophan include dairy (aha, warm milk!), soy, turkey and other poultry, nuts, eggs, and fish, to name a few. However, tryptophan foods need to be eaten in combination with other foods in order to be absorbed correctly, and also so a counteraction does not occur – perking us up instead. A handful of almonds and a half a pear is a great combo. And a glass of warm milk may not hurt either – calcium also helps with the absorption of tryptophan. The best time for a snack is an hour or two before bed.

Some sleep problems can be due to medications, medical conditions, to be sure. And snoring, which can be a sign of a deeper problem such as sleep apnea, causing us to temporarily stop breathing. It can affect high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke. Insomnia is also a contributor to suicidal thoughts and imbalanced behavior.

There may be many underlying issues regarding insomnia that are not obvious. If you experience lack of sleep for no apparent reason, get a thorough check-up to help uncover the cause. In the meantime, do try some of the above ideas – I’ve found they really do work!

And if you want to learn how to make your own lavender pillow, check out this easy craft idea: Make A Lavender Pillow.

Visit our web site for lots more great articles for baby boomers and seniors at

The best to you,


The Elder-Boomer Buzz comes out during the first and third weeks of the month.
Back to Back Issues Page