Being Active During the Day Can Quiet the Mind for the Night

Dr. Craig Hudson, MD | May 16, 2016

Are you battling sleepless nights? If you are, you are not alone. Over the course of one year, approximately 30% of adults experience periods of insomnia. For some people, it’s a temporary concern while others report suffering from chronic insomnia. Recent studies have shown that there’s a safe, non-invasive way to get a goodnight’s sleep without any harmful side effects.

Is Exercise the Key to Better Sleep?

Mounting evidence seems to suggest regular exercise is the cornerstone of living a healthy lifestyle, and this includes promoting good sleeping habits. Sufferers of sleeping disorders in particular seem to have a lot to gain from engaging in exercise during the day. However, there is still more research to be done and most experts are hesitant to say conclusively that exercise is the direct cause of improved sleep.

On average, the data from studies that have documented the correlation between sleep and exercise seem to indicate that insomniacs will experience noticeable improvements in the quality of their sleep after 4 to 24 weeks of adapting an exercise routine.

Researchers have suggested a few different reasons for why exercise seems to have such a positive impact on sleep cycles, but as of yet, there appears to be no single answer to this question. Regular exercise can, of course, help reduce other health risks like sleep apnea caused by weight gain. It has also been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Exercise can help use up the restless energy associated with these illnesses.

How Much Exercise Do You Need to See Improvements?

Research suggests that adding around 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week can improve sleep by as much as 65%. 150 minutes is equal to 2.5 hours, in which all things considered, is a very manageable amount of time, especially if you break it up throughout the week.

When you choose to exercise can also have an impact on your sleep. The immediate effects of a workout often include alertness, which means exercising just before bed is a big no, no. The UCLA Sleep Center warns against exercising in the two hour period before you turn in for the night. Ideally, exercising 4 to 6 hours before bedtime is best for getting a good quality sleep without risking exercise-related insomnia.

If you’re looking for a more natural solution to your sleeping problems, it certainly seems exercise could be part of the solution.

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