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Exercises to help your parents get a good night’s sleep

Exercise is important for all age groups, especially for older adults. Help your parents to perform these exercises for better sleep.
exercise for sleep
Exercise is important for your parents' overall well-being. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Dr Bhavani Swaminathan Updated: 27 Apr 2022, 18:43 pm IST
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What should you do if your parents are struggling to sleep well every night? Well, if that’s the case with your parents, there’s one thing that can promise you to bring their sleep cycle on track. Can you guess? Well, it is exercise! There are few exercises for better sleep that older adults can easily perform in order to improve their sleep.

The link between regular exercise and sleep quality is deep and has been studied quite extensively by researchers globally. Johns Hopkins Institute has found that moderate aerobic exercise helps in improving the quality of slow-wave sleep, also called ‘deep sleep’.

exercise for better sleep
Exercise can help older adults uplift themselves. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Consistent aerobics can also help in reducing excessive daytime sleepiness for people with sleep disorders. Research also shows moderate intensity aerobic activities can decrease the severity of sleep-disordered breathing conditions like obstructive sleep apnea. Interestingly, some studies suggest moderate-intensity aerobic exercise may improve sleep quality more than vigorous-intensity activities. However, there is debate among scientists about the right time to exercise. Experts recommend trying out different hours for exercising and respond according to the signs that your body provides.

For older adults, it is important to remember that an early and light dinner helps immensely in getting quality sleep. Other than a leisurely stroll, intense exercise is not recommended before bedtime. A few exercises will not only help your body stay fit and active but also help bring in quality sleep.

Here are some exercises that older adults can perform for better sleep:

1. Walking

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 walking pre or post meal. A good walk releases endorphins, powerful brain chemicals, that help you sleep, and getting a little peace and quiet while allowing your heart to pump blood in the system before bed can be quite beneficial for overall wellness.

2. Light weights

Cardiovascular exercise works best when it’s combined with a little weight training. Strength training builds muscle, and that requires energy, which helps you relax and sleep. For older adults, lifting weight may not be the best way. But they can use household items such as books or water bottles for muscle training and training motor skills for better balance and agility.

exercise for better sleep
Make physical activity a part of your daily life. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Yoga

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

Taking a simple 5-minute yoga regime before bedtime. Including asanas for relaxation helps attain quality sleep and reduce inflammation in the stomach. In general, including yoga in a daily fitness regime will also help the body relax and improve circulation.

How can exercise improve sleep patter?

Exercising, in general, elevates the overall body temperature, which may be uncomfortable for sleep if too close to bedtime, especially for older adults. But after an hour, the core body temperature starts to call and it also regulates itself so you don’t run the risk of overheating. This decline helps to facilitate sleepiness. Remember to watch for the signs your body provides while exercising and adapt to being active and it will lead to good quality sleep, even if not for very long hours.

Here are some more tips to do very light exercises to improve blood circulation and stabilise blood pressure in order to get a peaceful, relaxed sleep.


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1. Eye exercises

It is important to switch off digital screens and even television at least 2 hours before bedtime. Do simple blinking and eye rolls before getting shut-eye.

exercise for better sleep
Eye 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 focussing on breathing also reportedly helps improve sleep quality.

So, suggest your parents to do these exercises every day and then they sleep well!

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About the Author

Dr Bhavani Swaminathan, Nutrition and Wellness Coach at GetSetUp ...Read More

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