One of the most common myths about aging is that older adults need less sleep. The reality is somewhat more complicated. It’s true that our sleep patterns shift as we get older, but, this doesn’t mean that we need less sleep.
In fact, according to a 2003, National Sleep Foundation poll, older adults, aged 55 and above, actually sleep as much as their younger counterparts. As Sonia Ancoli-Israel, PhD, pointed out in a recent UCTV presentation on sleep and aging, the difference comes not in how much we sleep, but, in when we sleep. Specifically, people under 55 tend to sleep less during the week, but, they “catch up” by sleeping more than older adults on the weekend.
So, if getting less sleep is not a “normal part of aging,” what can we do to get the rest that we deserve? The first step should obviously be to talk with your doctor to rule out any potential sleep disorders and other medical issues.
At the same time, there are plenty of things that we can do to calm our minds and improve the health of our bodies. One such activity is gentle yoga.
We’ve talked before about the benefits of gentle yoga for seniors. For starters, gentle yoga is a “gateway” activity to a healthy lifestyle. It’s difficult to get motivated to play tennis or go for a jog, when you are stiff and sore all the time. Gentle yoga allows you to reconnect with your body and build up the basic core strength and flexibility necessary to succeed at other activities.
Don’t forget to try the FREE gentle yoga video at the beginning of this article. When you are ready, click here to order the entire series on DVD.
According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, yoga and meditation may be able to help people suffering from insomnia to quiet their minds and bodies so that they can sleep peacefully.
When you think about it, this makes intuitive sense. Do you ever find yourself lying in bed with a thousand thoughts running through your head? Are you currently thinking about the past or worrying about the future? As someone who has a tendency to do both of these things, I know how hard it can be to get to sleep when you have a lot on your mind.
Everyone’s situation is different, but, in my case, I definitely feel a lot less stressed now that I have made gentle yoga a part of my routine.
The good news is that there are so many ways to get started with yoga, even if you feel like you are not in great shape. Many gyms or community centers offer yoga classes, including classes aimed specifically at older adults. A quick Google search will help you to find a program in your area.
If you are a little nervous to practice yoga in a group, or, you just prefer to work out alone, you may want to consider our own Sixty and Me gentle yoga videos. They were filmed in beautiful Bali and focus on the specific issues that we face as we get a little older.
Finally, there are quite a few free yoga videos on YouTube, although very few of these focus on the needs of older adults. That said, if you are looking for a free place to start, they are definitely an option.
Have you tried yoga or meditation recently? Do you feel that your yoga practice helps you to calm your mind and get to sleep more easily? Please join the conversation and “like” and share this article to keep the discussion going.