According to some studies, the rate of insomnia in older individuals may be as high as 65 percent. Even if it is not this high–it can vary depending upon the criteria that you use to define what insomnia is–it is still a big problem. People have known for a long time that insomnia increases in likelihood as we age, but there’s still a lot of research that needs to be done in this area to help find a better solution.
One thing that many have suggested is that insomnia is caused by a lack of sufficient vitamins and supplements. One vitamin that is often targeted here is B12. And while this might be true in some cases, it’s definitely not the case for all. However, in hope of curing their insomnia, many seniors have begun taking this or other supplements without first checking with a doctor. The problem here isn’t that supplements are bad, but many of them have the reverse effect that is desired when it comes to getting more sleep. Rather than helping people to fall asleep, some supplements actually increase energy and brain activity, making sleep even harder to get.
Vitamin B12 has been shown to have many neurological benefits. A deficiency of the vitamin is associated with dementia, psychosis, and mood disturbances. However, its role in sleep is still unclear. What researchers do know is that lower B12 levels is closely associated with the aging process. This often happens because of dietary issues or digestive and absorption problems. The link between low B12 levels and insomnia is mainly because of the aging process, and they may not be as connected as some think. Again, more research in this area is needed to determine this more fully.
If you are suffering from age related dementia, or have a loved one who is, then your first step should be to consult with a doctor who has experience working with senior citizens. A doctor can get you pointed in the right direction and recommend which, if any, supplements can enhance your quality of life. This is especially important to do as some supplements can interact negatively with other medications or with pre-existing illnesses or conditions. While these latter instances are rare, they do occur and should be taken very seriously.
Most importantly, there are easy things you can do now to help yourself or a loved one get more sleep. Being active is perhaps the easiest thing that you can do. Physical activity works wonders thanks to the fact that it not only tires out the body, but it produces more serotonin in the brain, causing not only healthier cognitive functioning, but also a happier mood. These can help aide the sleep process a lot. However, social activity is also helpful. If you act as a family caregiver for a parent, find a few activities to help keep them active. Plan games, get some puzzles, have more conversation. All of these things stimulate the brain and help better the chances of quality sleep at night. If your parent has an in-home care specialist helping them, ask them to fulfill some of these functions. It can go a long way toward helping with insomnia and mental health in general.