The importance of restorative sleep for your health cannot be emphasized enough. But, as we age, a good night’s sleep can often feel frustratingly elusive. Fortunately, you have a powerful tool to help you—exercise. Beyond the known physical benefits, exercise may hold the key to unlocking a better night’s sleep. Let’s explore the connection between exercise and sleep for older adults, revealing how staying active can affect sleep quality. So, lace up your sneakers, and let’s get moving.
How Can Exercise Help You Sleep Better?
Although researchers may never fully understand the intricate relationship between exercise and sleep, the undeniable benefits make incorporating physical activity into your routine worthwhile. Exercise not only influences the quantity of your sleep but can enhance the quality. Regular physical activity has been found to reduce the frequency of nighttime awakenings, allowing you to enjoy uninterrupted periods of deep slumber. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, the “feel-good” hormones that promote relaxation and reduce stress and anxiety. By reducing these sleep disruptors, exercise helps create a calm and peaceful mental state conducive to a more restful sleep experience.
Which Activity Is Best for Older Adults?
The best activity for older adults depends on your interests, fitness levels, and specific health considerations. Choose activities that you enjoy and that align with your abilities. Consider trying a variety of different activities and exploring what works best for you. Always listen to your body, start slowly, and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your exercises.
When it comes to exercise for older adults, look for safe, convenient, and enjoyable activities. Here are some recommendations:
- Walking is a low-impact activity that is accessible to almost everyone. Walking provides cardiovascular benefits, improves muscle strength and flexibility, and promotes overall well-being when outside in the fresh air. Engaging in a brisk walk during the day can help energize your body, preparing you for a restful night of sleep.
- Yoga combines gentle movement, stretching, and mindfulness, making it an excellent choice for older adults. Combining held poses, deep breathing, and relaxation techniques can reduce stress and help you unwind.
- If you have access to a pool, swimming is a great choice for many seniors, especially those with joint and mobility issues. The buoyancy of water reduces the impact on joints while providing a full-body workout. Swimming improves cardiovascular health, muscle tone, and flexibility. The rhythmic and soothing nature of swimming can also have a relaxing effect on the mind, aiding in better sleep.
- Tai Chi. Tai chi is a gentle martial art focusing on slow, flowing movements and deep breathing. It promotes balance, flexibility, and relaxation. Regular practice of tai chi has been associated with improved sleep quality, reduced insomnia symptoms, and decreased daytime sleepiness in older adults.
- Cycling, whether on a stationary bike, traditional, or electric bike, is a low-impact aerobic exercise that strengthens leg muscles, improves cardiovascular health, and enhances overall stamina. Electric bikes offer added assistance making it easier to pedal and adapt to different fitness levels. Cycling outdoors exposes you to natural light, promoting a healthy sleep-wake cycle and providing added mental health benefits.
- Whether ballroom dancing, Zumba, or any other form of dance, moving to the rhythm can be a joyful and effective way to stay active. Dancing improves cardiovascular health, coordination, balance, and flexibility. The combination of physical activity and the joy of dancing can make it an enjoyable and social workout.
- Mind-Body Practices. Mind-body practices such as meditation, deep breathing, and relaxation techniques can help reduce stress, promote mental well-being, and improve sleep. Incorporating these practices into your routine, either as a standalone activity or in conjunction with other exercises, can profoundly impact sleep quality.
Remember, before starting a new exercise program, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider, especially if you have underlying health conditions. Your physician can provide personalized recommendations and ensure the chosen activities are safe and suitable for your needs.
Best Timing of Exercise for Better Sleep
When it comes to better sleep, it’s important to be mindful of the timing of your workout. For some people, exercising too late in the day can interfere with their ability to fall asleep. While the optimal time to exercise for your sleep is still debated, listen to your body, and find a routine that suits your lifestyle. Observe how exercise affects your sleep patterns and adjust accordingly. Studies have shown that moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of deep, slow-wave sleep, allowing your brain and body to rejuvenate. Additionally, exercise helps stabilize mood, decompress the mind, and facilitate a smooth transition to sleep. Whether a brisk morning walk, a yoga session, or an afternoon swim, incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine can significantly improve your sleep quality and overall well-being.
How Much Physical Activity Do You Need
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that older adults over 65 need at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity activity, such as brisk walking or cycling, or 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity activity, such as hiking, jogging, or running. The total number of minutes can be spread over several days, making it achievable and flexible for your schedule. In addition to aerobic activity, it is important to include muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week. Strength training can involve resistance bands, weights, or bodyweight exercises like squats and lunges. Also include activities that improve balance, such as yoga.
Know that these recommendations can be modified based on your abilities and any existing health conditions. If you have concerns, consult your doctor for personalized recommendations for your specific needs. Your healthcare provider can guide how to incorporate physical activity safely and effectively into your weekly routine.
Any amount of physical activity is better than none. Take your time to get comfortable. Start slow and gradually increase your activity level. Listen to your body and adjust, as necessary. The goal is to find an exercise routine you enjoy and can sustain over the long term.
As you establish a new routine incorporating physical activity to promote better sleep, consider the Dawn House bed system as a complement to your efforts. The Dawn House sleep system offers features crafted to enhance your sleep quality. From adjustable positioning to improve circulation to gentle massage to soothe sore muscles, the Dawn House bed is your partner in achieving restorative sleep. With exercise as your daily energizer and the Dawn House bed as your nightly support, you can sleep better to enjoy a vibrant, active, and fulfilling lifestyle.