Foods that might cause your parents’ sleep routine to be disrupted

As people grow older, their sleep quality and quantity decrease as a result of the decreased production of growth hormones and melatonin. People’s circadian rhythms also undergo changes as they age. 

Just because they’re getting fewer hours of sleep doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily good for them. With that in mind, it’s critical to ensure that they experience as few disruptions as possible in their regular sleep. 

That’s precisely why senior care communities exert every effort possible to ensure that their residents are following the optimal sleep routine. One of the main aspects that they prioritize is the food that the seniors eat before they call it a day and go to bed. That being said, are there foods that impact seniors’ sleep more than the average person? Let’s find out!

Foods and Beverages that Are in the Red List for Older People

Most of the food items, viands, and meals listed here are backed by senior care services and senior living professionals who already have in-depth experience in taking care of the elderly in their respective care communities. This is precisely why you won’t see most of them in the meal plans of, for example, your local retirement community. 

You may want to avoid serving them to your parents as well if it’s already nearing their bedtime, especially if you’re the one in charge of their well-being. Here they are as follows:

Basically, anything that contains caffeine

We know that green tea is a healthy beverage, but unless it’s completely decaffeinated, then it’s a no-go. Matcha, oolong, and black tea contain the most caffeine, so should be completely avoided in the afternoon. 

Coffee is pretty much a no-brainer since we all know that it’s pretty much a caffeine bomb. Make sure they only get it in the morning.

Don’t forget about dark chocolate or essentially anything that you believe contains cocoa. These contain caffeine, too. Lastly, beverages like soda (especially Coke) also have a lot of caffeine and sugar, so limit that if you can’t erase it from their diet plan altogether.

Fat-laden food

Anything high in saturated fat and cholesterol is off-limits when evening nears. It’s already been established in studies that having the body digest fat during sleep only leads to frequent disruptions. 

  • This means basically anything that’s fried or red meat that contains plenty of fatty portions. 
  • Pizza contains a lot of processed meat and cheese, so that should be crossed out unless you follow a lighter, vegan-friendly recipe.
  • Keep the butter low as well as it’s also packed with fat.

Spicy food

Now, you may argue that spices like hot peppers and cayenne peppers are actually helpful for keeping cholesterol down and promoting circulation, they’re simply not right for bedtime. During the times when your parents were younger, spicy food would have been fine, since it’s actually also been proven to boost the body’s metabolism and promote fat-burning during sleep.

However, the same mechanism in fact leads to a rise in core body temperature. We all know how significant it is for the body to maintain a cool temperature to ensure optimal sleep. Your parents will only end up tossing and turning and finding ways to keep cool once they lie down, which isn’t really ideal. 

This is why you shouldn’t be surprised if you observe the menus of your local senior community and see that there’s not much spicy food included, especially on the dinner list. 

Anything that has high water content.

Avoiding too much water before bedtime is wise advice, especially if you know that you won’t be able to pee what you drank before you hit the hay. This problem becomes all the more pronounced among seniors because they tend to have conditions that impair their bladder control, which leads to a condition called nocturia (aka constant peeing at night). 

If your parent is more or less prone to it, you should keep him or her from taking too much water or any liquid for that matter before bed. We’re not just referring to actual drinking water when we make this recommendation. These include:

  • Fruits like watermelon, peaches, oranges, pineapples, and strawberries.
  • Vegetables like tomatoes, zucchini, celery, and iceberg lettuce. 

Another note about tomatoes: While it’s an extremely healthy addition to your parent’s diet, it actually contains a compound called tyramine. While it boosts brain function and activity acutely, it simply won’t be smart to serve it at night when you’re well aware that you should be taking steps to prepare to get your much-needed forty winks.

Never Forget the Vital Role of Sleep to People, Especially the Elderly

Senior assisted living communities and long-term memory care communities are all too aware of the negative effects of poor sleep quality among their residents. Even if they’re meeting their exercise, diet, and medical requirements, the absence of deep, refreshing sleep only defeats the purpose of these achievements.

  • Lack of sleep can negatively impact heart health. Of course, this only leads to a disastrous domino effect on overall well-being, especially as the circulatory system serves a comprehensive role in preventing plenty of chronic diseases. 
  • Without giving the mind the rest it requires, a person won’t be able to focus that well. This only heightens your parents’ risk of experiencing falls and other accidents. 
  • Studies also show that older people who lack high-quality sleep tend to rely on medicines more than those who do.
  • Poor sleep leads to higher stress levels because the body is never given enough time to get rid of hormones such as cortisol. It’s already been well documented that stress has a snowball effect on overall health as well. 
  • It’s tough to enjoy life without getting that much-needed refreshing rest. Consider your elderly parents as doubly prone to this, so you can only imagine its impact on their quality of life. 


Keep in mind, your average memory day care for seniors actively keeps track of their residents’ sleeping patterns. They do this because they know that sleep affects memory and even increases the risk of dementia. This is precisely why you should consider parents’ dietary choices to be an essential component of wellness once and for all. 

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