A new study by Northwestern Medicine has found that middle aged and older individuals can improve their sleep significantly by engaging in regular aerobic exercise. Sleep patterns change dramatically with advancing age, with over half of all people in this age bracket reporting some form of sleep deprivation or insomnia. Women are also more likely to be affected than their male partners.
One of the major advantages of this natural approach is that there is no risk of sleep medication interacting with other prescription drugs, something that is increasingly likely as patients become more reliant on medicines in later life. The importance of sleep to overall health and wellbeing was also highlighted by the study, and was compared to consuming a balanced diet by the study author. Health problems such as hypertension and high blood pressure could also be linked to poor sleep, and may also interfere with the effective management of a condition such as diabetes.
The study used 23 individuals 55 years and over who had some form of insomnia or problem sleeping. One study group completed a pre-determined aerobic physical exercise programme four times a week over a 16 week period, with participants walking or using a treadmill or bike to raise their heart rate. The other group engaged in no aerobic physical activity and were instead involved in a range of leisure activities.
The aerobic exercise group reported a dramatic improvement in their quality of sleep, specifically the duration of sleep - as well as improvements in mood and vitality. This is valuable information that should be used to encourage all senior citizens to exercise regularly, and ensure a good nights rest.