Simple Exercises for Better Sleep for Seniors

What should you do if your parents have difficulty getting a good night’s sleep? Well, if that’s the case for your parents, there’s something that can promise you that you’ll get their sleep cycle back on track. Can you guess? Well, it’s exercise! There are few better sleep exercises that older adults can easily do to improve their sleep.

The link between regular exercise and sleep quality is profound and has been extensively studied by researchers around the world. The Johns Hopkins Institute found that moderate aerobic exercise helps improve the quality of slow-wave sleep, also called “deep sleep.”

exercise to sleep betterExercise can help older adults get up. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Regular aerobic exercise can also help reduce excessive daytime sleepiness in people with sleep disorders. Research also shows that moderate-intensity aerobic activities can decrease the severity of sleep-disordered breathing, such as obstructive sleep apnea. Interestingly, some studies suggest that moderate-intensity aerobic exercise may improve sleep quality more than vigorous-intensity activities. However, there is a debate among scientists about the right time to exercise. Experts recommend trying different times to exercise and responding according to the signals your body gives you.

For older adults, it’s important to remember that an early, light dinner goes a long way toward quality sleep. Other than a leisurely walk, strenuous exercise before bed is not recommended. Some exercises will not only help your body stay fit and active, but also help you get quality sleep.

Here are some exercises that older adults can do to sleep better:

1. Walk

It is an underrated form of exercise. Walking is a universal activity and can be done anywhere. Choose how brisk a walk you want depending on whether you walk before or after meals. A brisk walk releases endorphins, powerful brain chemicals that help you sleep, and getting some peace and quiet while allowing your heart to pump blood into your system before bed can be very beneficial to your overall well-being.

2. Light weights

Cardio works best when combined with some weight training. Strength training builds muscle, and that requires energy, which helps you relax and sleep. For older adults, lifting weights may not be the best way. But they can use household items like books or water bottles to train muscles and train motor skills to improve balance and agility.

exercise to sleep betterMake physical activity a part of your daily life. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

3. yoga

Since yoga is a form of resistance training focused on improving posture, breathing techniques, and meditation, it has many good results. Harvard University conducted a survey where the results showed that 55 percent of the participants reported an improvement in sleep quality with yoga practice, while 85 percent reported a reduction in stress.

Take a simple 5-minute yoga regimen before bed. Including asanas for relaxation helps to achieve quality sleep and reduces inflammation in the stomach. In general, including yoga in a daily exercise regimen will also help the body relax and improve circulation.

How can exercise improve sleep pattern?

Exercise, in general, raises your overall body temperature, which can be uncomfortable for sleeping if it’s too close to bedtime, especially for older adults. But after an hour, your core body temperature starts calling and also regulates itself so you don’t risk overheating. This decrease helps ease sleepiness. Remember to pay attention to the signals that your body gives you while you exercise and adapt to being active and that will lead to good quality sleep, even if it is not for many hours.

Here are some more tips for doing very light exercises to improve blood circulation and stabilize blood pressure for a peaceful and relaxed sleep.

1. Eye exercises

It’s important to turn off digital screens and even the television at least 2 hours before bedtime. Blink and roll your eyes before sleeping.

exercise to sleep betterEye exercises are really helpful. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Breathing exercise/Pranayama

Yoga breathing is known to help with common sleep problems, including sleep apnea (snoring). Simple savasana (corpse pose) while focusing on the breath also helps improve sleep quality.

So suggest to your parents that they do these exercises every day and then get a good night’s sleep!


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