Alert
Close

Tell your senator to end the gridlock and renew the Older Americans Act now. Learn more

HIGHLIGHTS

Open
AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy

AARP REALPAD

The tablet with free 24/7 customer support. Learn More

AARP VETERAN MEMBERSHIP

Military and Veterans Discount

CONTESTS AND SWEEPS

AARP’s Picture Your Retirement Sweepstakes

Enter the $50K Picture Your Retirement Sweepstakes. Ends 8/31/15. No purchase necessary. Enter for Official Rules.

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

Webinars

Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

AARP BOOKS

Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

Sleep on This: Exercise for Better Rest

Get more z's at night without a pill

Half the group was assigned to exercise for two 20-minute sessions or one 30- to 40-minute session four times a week. They walked, jogged, used a treadmill or stationary bike or went swimming. The other half chose a variety of social or cultural activities, such as cooking classes, art lectures, concerts and playing bingo.

At the end of the study, the improvement in sleep quality for the exercise group was startling: The participants now said their sleep quality was "good," ranking it below 5 on the 14-point sleep quality scale. They also said they felt much less depressed and said their daytime sleepiness had been significantly reduced.

The non-exercise group, however, may have learned more about art or cooking, but they were still tired and grumpy. They showed no improvement in sleep quality, daytime sleepiness or depression.

Phyllis Zee, M.D., director of Northwestern's Sleep Disorders Center and senior author of the study, says sleep is an essential part of health — as important as good nutrition. "By improving a person's sleep, you can improve their physical and mental health. If a person isn't sleeping well, we know they are more likely to be in poor health with problems managing their hypertension or diabetes."

So what is it about exercise that improves our sleep? "That is the million dollar question," says Zee. "Sleep and physical activity are intimately involved in regulating metabolism and mood." The study indicates that aerobic exercise "is a simple strategy to help people sleep better and feel more vigorous."

In addition to getting regular exercise, Zee has these tips for older adults who may be having trouble getting enough z's at night:

  • Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. It helps your body establish a sleep-wake cycle and will help you fall asleep more easily.
  • Avoid caffeine at least six hours before sleep time so your body has time to eliminate its stimulant effects. (And not just coffee and tea, but soft drinks and energy drinks with caffeine as well. Yes, that means you with the Mountain Dew or Diet Coke. Did you know that stuff has more caffeine than tea?)
  • Avoid alcohol before bedtime. (You may think it's a sedative, but it actually disrupts sleep.)
  • Get out in the bright light during the day. Then at night, dim the lights and make sure your bedroom is cool, dark, quiet and comfortable.

Candy Sagon writes on health and nutrition for the Bulletin.

You may also like: Keep a cool head for better sleep. >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Advertisement

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Walgreens 1 discount membership aarp

Members can earn 50 points per $1 spent on select health & wellness products at Walgreens.

member benefit aarp hear usa

Members can save 20% on hearing aids with the AARP® Hearing Care Program provided by HearUSA.

Eye Med 4 Membership Benefit AARP Discount

Members save up to 60% on eye exams and 30% on glasses at Target Optical.

Membership Benefits Discounts Email Genius

Brain boost? Get AARP email for access to memory exercises & more that help you focus.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points

Advertisement