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How meditation can help seniors sleep better: expert insights

April 29, 2024
4 minutes
Lifestyle Health & Wellness
Sleep wellness strategies

Getting enough sleep is essential for overall health and well-being. However, many seniors suffer from persistent slumber issues. In fact, chronic sleep problems affect 40% to 70% of people aged 66 years and above.

Seniors with sleep problems often wake up tired the next day, but that isn’t the biggest concern. These problems can escalate to various physical and mental health conditions over time. The CDC reports that sleep disturbances are linked to chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.

Fortunately, there are options to help seniors get a better night’s sleep. Meditation is one of the most natural and effective ways to improve sleep quality - and not just for seniors. 

Meditation is a mental-quieting practice that involves breathing techniques and utmost focus. It can provide a drug-free way to help fix sleep problems. How? It can regulate the body's natural sleep processes and promote a deeply relaxed state.  

Not sure where to start with using meditation for better sleep? Fret not; this page covers the transformative power of meditation for sound slumber. Read on to learn how it can help you or your senior loved ones sleep better.

1. Meditation increases melatonin production 

Melatonin levels are crucial for controlling the sleep-wake cycle. As people age, these levels tend to decrease, making it more and more difficult for seniors to fall and stay asleep at night. However, many seniors can benefit from meditation to boost their melatonin production.

Meditating activates the pineal gland and the entire corpora quadragemina. Located at the center of the brain, this gland is responsible for generating melatonin, which is vital for sleep. Through focused concentration and breathing, meditation gets the pineal working to pump out more melatonin to cue the body that it's time for rest.

Aaron Charlton, Health, Science & Travel Writer at Away Clinic, suggests practicing meditation. "It can help increase melatonin production and regulate stress. It controls stress like cortisol and cytokine levels, which can potentially suppress melatonin." 

Charlton explains, "Seniors who incorporate meditation into their nightly routine discover they can sleep more quickly and soundly. Not only do they have a more restful sleep, but they also wake up feeling more energized."

2. Meditation reduces stress and anxiety 

Stress and anxiety often  cause sleep difficulties, which is especially the case for many seniors. However, meditation can be an effective strategy for overcoming these unsettling mental conditions and can be a vital part of seniors' stress management techniques.

Various studies show that mindful meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety. It triggers the body's relaxation response, regulating blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. As such, it can significantly decrease the symptoms of stress, rumination, and worry among seniors.

Sam O'Brien, Founder and Chief at WaterSportsWhiz, explains, "Meditation gradually creates resistance to everyday stresses. There will be less mental chatter in the evening, so seniors can relax better and doze off to a good sleep. Ultimately, the tranquility of the mind is key to sound sleep."

Further, Olivier Poirier-Leroy, Owner and Editor of YourWorkoutBook, recommends the meditation practice. "Sit in a comfortable position, close one's eyes, and focus on anything, such as your breath. Through meditation, older adults can teach their minds to be less preoccupied with the past or the future and be more in the present."

3. Meditation regulates circadian rhythm

The circadian rhythm is the internal "timekeeper" of the human body since it controls the sleep-wake cycle. However, as seniors age, they find it hard to get sleep at night and stay awake throughout the day. Meditation can help support and strengthen these fundamental biological cycles.

Research shows that meditation practices affect brain functions, causing regulatory changes in various mental states, such as sleep. Specifically, it improves the brain sections involved in circadian rhythms. Reinforcing these 'command centers' strengthens the circadian rhythms.

Danelle Ferreira, Crystal Specialist at AllCrystal, emphasizes the positive impact of meditation on the circadian rhythm. "Seniors with healthy circadian rhythms experience drowsiness as soon as they go to bed because their brains are sending signals to shut down." 

Ferreira argues, "With daily practice, they can use the benefits of meditation to create sleep patterns in line with the daylight and the nighttime. That results in a more peaceful and restful sleep.”

The power of meditation for better sleep for seniors

Sleep is essential for physical and mental health. However, many seniors don't get the right kind and amount of sleep. Worse, some battle with insomnia and other sleep issues. That's where meditation can help as an inexpensive and drug-free remedy.

As discussed, meditation can help increase melatonin production, reduce stress and anxiety, as well as regulate the circadian rhythm. It can assist seniors in falling asleep more quickly, staying asleep longer, and waking up with greater energy. Harness the power of meditation, and it can ultimately promote good health and overall well-being!

Even a 5-minute meditation session before bed can greatly benefit seniors. Apps for mindfulness meditation, body scans, mild yoga, and breath-focused meditation are excellent options. Try the Evidation app today to track your sleep and monitor your health!

Sleep wellness strategies
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