Does Exercise Help You Sleep Better?
Fall asleep faster, stay asleep for longer and wake up feeling rested. Those are the three things we all look and hope for when we go to bed. But it’s not always as easy as that, is it?
When it comes to getting a better night’s sleep, there’s a whole lot of advice, tips and tricks out there to help you. But there’s one thing in particular that can be incredibly effective in improving your sleep: Exercise.
According to the Sleep Foundation, as little as 10 minutes of mild to moderate aerobic exercise per day can significantly improve the quality of our sleep. Incorporating this type of regular exercise, like walking, swimming or cycling, into our daily routines can help us get the restful shut-eye that we need, while also reducing the risk of sleep-disrupting ailments such as restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea.
How does exercise help us sleep better?
Multiple scientific studies have shown connections between regular exercise and sleep, though the effects differ from person to person.
The first and perhaps most obvious way that exercise helps us sleep better is through expending larger amounts of energy. In doing so we tire ourselves out, making us more likely to fall asleep faster when we go to bed, and stay asleep for longer.
Exercising is also known to be an excellent stress buster and, as high levels of stress are linked to poor sleep quality, it follows that lower stress levels are conducive to a better night’s sleep.
Engaging in physical activity also increases the amount of time we spend in deep sleep. Deep sleep is the golden window of time in which our body can take care of itself, boost immune function and repair muscles and tissues. Deep sleep is also responsible for that wonderfully refreshed feeling you get when you wake up in the morning. Without it, we don’t feel rested.
Does timing and level of exercise matter?
Once upon a time it was believed by many experts that sleeping too close to bedtime or exercising too vigorously will overstimulate the body and make it difficult to fall asleep. Now, however, it is recognised that this issue doesn’t affect everybody.
It all comes down to your own individual needs and your body’s own responses. If you start to notice that exercising later on or too vigorously gets you too worked up and restless just before bedtime, or if the raise in body temperature interferes with falling asleep, then try moving your workout to first thing in the morning or at lunch time.
Some people, however, find that exercising in the evening gets them to the perfect state of tiredness when it comes to bedtime, and they fall asleep easier. It simply takes a little trial and error to work out the right routine for you.
Exercise and Insomnia
Chronic insomnia, or the inability to initiate or maintain sleep, is one of the most common adult sleep disorders, and many scientific studies have been carried out into causes and treatments.
If you suffer from insomnia, it is possible that you could find some relief in the form of exercise. Studies that have looked directly at the effects of exercise on chronic insomnia suggest that regular exercise does have a positive effect on the quality of sleep of people who suffer from the condition.
Separate studies have also found that both single exercise sessions and long-term regimes are effective in reducing the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and increasing the length of time insomnia sufferers remained asleep.
Want more tips on how to sleep better?
There are lots of other ways you can improve the quality of sleep, and many of them require just a few very minor tweaks to your bedroom.
Simple things like investing in a different types of bedding can have a significant impact on your sleep. There could be things wrong here that you’re completely unaware of, such as dust mite allergies, the wrong type or tog of duvet, an old and lumpy mattress or the wrong type of pillow for your favoured sleeping position.
Investing in some new bedding such as an anti-allergy duvet of the correct tog level for your needs can help you sleep more comfortably and without interruption. New anti-allergy bounceback pillows can also help reduce any allergy symptoms and provide the right amount of neck and shoulder support, making you less likely to suffer from aches and pains during the night.
Take a look at our recent blog for more tips on how to sleep better and test the effects out for yourself; you may find that the answer to your sleep problems is a very simple one after all.