Senior men having difficulty sleeping at night due to extended periods of interrupted breathing may be at increased risk of heart-related death. This problem is thought to be due to poor oxygenation (study indicator) stemming from sleep apnea and other related factors, according to an Australian study in European Heart Journal (2018). Researchers Linz and Baumert reported that men with ≥ 12 minutes of oxygen saturation below 90% during their sleep cycles increased risk of heart-related death by nearly 60% in the study. The importance of restful, well-oxygenated sleep in relation to health and healing cannot be underestimated for many reasons. If you suspect you are one of the individuals with sleep apnea or other sleep-related health issues, please talk with your primary care physician and ask for a sleep study to uncover the root cause of your problem and get help.
Having trouble falling asleep? Most prescription and OTC sleep medications are considered high risk for seniors as they can cause falls or impaired driving skills. Melatonin is a naturally produced chemical in the brain that helps regulate the sleep cycle. Our body produces around 0.1 mg melatonin per night, a very small amount indeed.
Melatonin as a dietary supplement might be an option to consider with the advice of your physician if other lifestyle changes don’t do the trick (e.g., cool bedroom, decluttering your mind, use of relaxing herbal teas like lavender, chamomile, or decaffeinated green tea before bedtime).
Melatonin may reduce the time it takes to fall asleep by only 10 minutes. Starting doses are 1 mg – 3 mg between 30 minutes to 60 minutes before bedtime, maximum 5 mg nightly only as needed. Melatonin does not work for everyone and if it does not, it’s best to stop taking it within a few weeks of trying. Finally, please don’t combine melatonin with other prescription or OTC sleep medications or you may experience drowsiness.
Stay safe and sweet dreams!