Aging & Health A to Z
Lifestyle & Management
Maintaining good sleep hygiene is the best approach to keeping your sleep patterns healthy. In particular:
- Avoid caffeine (including chocolate), tobacco, and alcohol in the later part of the day.
- Do not eat a large meal before bedtime.
- Regularly exercise, early in the day.
- Follow a regular bedtime routine and schedule.
- Avoid daytime naps.
- Only use your bed for sleeping or sexual activity.
- Manage stress, depression, or anxiety.
- Stay away from sleeping pills if possible.
Diet and Exercise
Sleep apnea is associated with obesity and a wide neck circumference. Therefore, losing a significant amount of weight may reduce your sleep apnea symptoms. Weight loss may also improve painful conditions like arthritis that cause sleep disruption.
Generally, regular exercise helps to induce sleep later in the day. Studies have suggested beneficial effects on sleep with Tai Chi. Avoid exercising within about three hours of going to bed.
Not being able to get a good night’s sleep night after night is linked to several serious health consequences, including:
- Major depression (either as a cause or as a result of insomnia)
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Poorer health overall
- More falls and fractures
- Daytime sleepiness
- More alcohol and drug abuse
- Mental issues like confusion, memory loss, poor judgment, delirium
- Worse quality of life (for up to 70% of caregivers, disrupted sleep played a major role in the decision to institutionalize the adult in their care)
Updated: May 2017
Posted: March 2012