Exercise and Sleep for Seniors

Not getting enough sleep can be a serious health problem. Lack of sleep hurts your cognitive processing by making it harder to focus and stay alert. It can be hard to concentrate, reason, and solve problems. Sleep deprivation can also increase your risk of things like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and your risk of falling, and these are all a pretty big deal for older adults. Many seniors have sleep struggles, but just because sleep issues are common, does not mean they are a normal part of aging. In this article, we’ll go over the link between exercise and sleep for seniors. 

  • Exercise relieves stress. If you’re stressed out, your body is likely producing more stress hormones than it needs, making it that much harder to get sleep. However, exercise, even just a brisk walk, can help you lower your cortisol, or stress hormone, levels, which might make it a little easier to get some shut-eye. 
  • Exercises helps establish a sleep-wake cycle. Your circadian clock is what tells your body when it’s time to fall asleep and wake up. Once that cycle is interrupted, it can be hard to get back on the right track, and it could even lead to a sleeping disorder like insomnia. However, working out and adjusting your workout time to fit your circadian rhythm may help. 
  • Exercise improves your sleep quality. Studies have shown exercise not only helps you sleep but can help your sleep quality too. This means your total sleep time, sleep efficiency (ratio of sleep time to time spent in bed), and the number of minutes you spend awake after your fall asleep can all be improved. 
  • Exercise makes it easier to fall asleep. Exercise can increase your body’s need for sleep, making it easier to fall asleep at night, rather than spending time just staring up at the ceiling.