Ask The Sleep Doctor – “terrible time falling and staying asleep”

Dear Dr. Rosenberg,

My 67-year-old husband has a terrible time falling and staying asleep. He used to be physically active and slept well. Is there any relationship between exercise and sleep?


Yes, most definitely. In fact, two recent studies completed on older individuals bears this out. In both studies, introducing a moderate exercise program resulted in improved quality and duration of sleep. Actually, in one of these studies, sleep increased by 1¼ hours nightly. The key was at least 30 minutes of mild to moderate exercise four to five days a week. Mild exercise is defined as exercise that gets your heart rate up to 40% of maximum. Moderate gets it up 60 to 70%. If you subtract your age from the number 220, you get a fairly accurate assessment of maximum heart rate. Before undertaking a program like this, get checked out by your health care provider to make sure it is safe for you.

Need more help? Learn about these calming rituals to help you fall asleep faster.


Robert S. Rosenberg, DO, FCCP, is the medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, Arizona and sleep medicine consultant for Mountain Heart Health Services in Flagstaff, Arizona. Dr. Rosenberg is board certified in sleep medicine, pulmonary medicine, and internal medicine.  His book Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day  is a best seller. Dr Rosenberg’s latest book is The Doctor’s Guide to Sleep Solutions for Stress & Anxiety. Visit Dr Rosenberg’s website which is a wealth of information on sleep topics.

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