How Exercise Improves Sleep
Working out is great for your body. It keeps you in shape and can help you feel more comfortable in your skin. We all know that having a strong, toned body is wonderful, but staying active also contributes to our overall health in more ways than we may realize. Moving our bodies regularly makes room for a healthier mind, a stronger body, and great sleep.
Exercise: Sleep and Health Benefits
The relationship between sleep and exercise has been heavily researched over the years. Although scientists haven’t quite gotten to the bottom of the mechanisms, they do acknowledge that the connection between the two exists. One of the most consistent conclusions that have been drawn is that moderate exercise can promote greater sleep quality. This includes shortening the time it takes to fall asleep and reducing the time spent lying awake in bed at night.
One of the most obvious reasons as to why exercise promotes sleep is that it physically tires you out. Think back to an intense workout you recently completed. Did you feel exhausted after it? If so, this is completely normal. After physical activity, the body seeks to recover, and sleep is the best method to do so. In addition, exercise is regarded as a powerful antidote to stress. As we mentioned in our stress series, anxiety and nervousness have a major role to play when it comes to sleep troubles. To combat this tension, people turn to exercise for its mood-boosting effects. When you work out, your brain releases chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins, making you feel happy and relaxed. This post-exercise high can ease stress. Consequently, when stress is reduced, it may be easier to get some sleep.
Regular exercise also has a positive impact on bone and muscle strengthening. Aerobic, muscle-strengthening activities done at a moderate-to-intense level can delay the loss of bone density that comes with age. The physical benefits of regular activity also extend to easing muscle tension, supporting heart health, and managing pain.
Exercises for Better Sleep
By now, it’s very apparent that the benefits of exercise are plentiful. However, every body is different, so it’s important to understand what kind of physical activity targets your personal needs. Here are a few exercises that can be done moderately during the day to help with sleep at night:
Aerobics and Cardio
Regular aerobic exercise is believed to reduce daytime sleepiness and relieve insomnia. Some research has found moderate aerobic exercise to increase the amount of time spent in deep sleep – the stage of sleep where the body restores itself.
- Exercises: brisk walking, biking, swimming
A study from the Preventative Medicine Reports concluded that strength/resistance training positively impacted participants’ sleep. This could have something to do with the fact that moderate-to-intense exercise increases adenosine activity in the brain. Adenosine is a chemical in the central nervous system that builds up in the blood when you are awake and triggers drowsiness.
- Exercises: Lifting weights, sit-ups, push-ups
The debate over whether or not working out at night is a good idea is highly controversial. Here at Zenbev, we encourage you to avoid vigorous workouts before bedtime. If possible, aim to complete your workout at least two or more hours before heading to bed. Doing so will give your brain some time to wind down. With that being said, there are still some gentle ways to move your body before bed that won’t impact your sleep, but can actually improve it.
Next time you are having trouble getting to sleep, consider practicing some of the following activities:
- Tai Chi: Can have a positive effect on flexibility, balance and muscle strength. May improve insomnia symptoms in healthy older adults.
- Yoga: Promotes relaxation and relieves stress. Yoga can help with calming the mind, which can make it easier to calm the body and wind down for the night.
- Flexibility Training: If you find yourself tossing and turning in bed due to aches and pains, flexibility training may be a great addition to your bedtime routine. This activity can loosen up stiff muscles and prevent sleep-disrupting cramps.
- Exercises: Deep stretches, pilates
Similar to Zenbev, exercise can be a wonderful, natural treatment for stress reduction and healthier sleep. Find an activity that works for you, and try to incorporate it into your daily routine. Your body will thank you for taking good care of it!