The many benefits of exercise cannot be overstated. From improving your cardio fitness levels to keeping your weight in check, there’s a lot that pumping iron can help with. But did you know that the benefits of exercise also include catching that much-needed shuteye?
Exercise can positively impact your sleeping habits in many different ways. Primary among them being:
The first thing that exercise does for your sleep is to help you sleep longer hours. In fact, physical activities that get your heart rate up, such as running, or cycling have been shown to improve sleep and also help battle insomnia. What exercise also does, is to help stabilize your mood and that makes the transition to sleep easier.
The answer to how to improve sleep quality also lies in an exercise regime. Physical activity helps with your daily quota of “deep sleep”, which in turn is extremely restorative, both for your mind and body.
A regular exercise routine also goes a long way in helping to reduce your stress and anxiety levels. What that means is that the body isn’t in “ flight or fight mode” and that the transition to sleep is far easier.
Exercise acts as a natural therapy when it comes to insomnia and other sleeping disorders. In fact, aerobic exercise has been found to be particularly effective for insomnia. Exercise is also recommended to reduce the severity of sleep-disordered breathing.
Do remember though that positive effects of exercise kick in over a period of time. Being consistent with your exercise schedule, is, therefore, key.
There are, however, some things that you need to keep in mind to reap the sleep-related benefits of exercise :
Some people find that exercising close to bedtime seems to keep them up at night. This could be on account of the release of endorphins that can create an activity level in the brain that makes it tougher to fall asleep. Also, the body temperature elevation after exercise may interfere with your ability to sleep.
However, it will be best to find a time that works for you. Keep a tab on how you are sleeping with a morning or evening exercise schedule and you would know what works best for you.
Irrespective of whatever time you choose for your exercise regimen, it will be good to allow yourself some winding-down time. This could mean reading a book, meditating or any such activity that relaxes you.
While there is no right answer to how much exercise is good for you, typically at least 150 minutes of exercise a week is recommended. Do keep in mind also that while exercise is good for sleep, it needs to be practised in moderation. For example, more than an hour of vigorous exercise a day, can, in fact, be counterproductive to sleep.
In case you go with a nightly exercise schedule, the one thing to keep in mind is that you may feel the need to have a post-workout snack. Keep to a light snack, as a big meal close to sleep time makes sleeping harder.
Choose the exercise regime that works for you- jog, brisk walk, cycle or swim. The benefits of exercise include feeling better and sleeping better!