Can Exercise Help Improve Your Sleep? – What to Keep in Mind
Have you been feeling overly stressed lately? Do you find yourself staying awake at night and unable to get any real rest?
In our busy world that demands so much of our time and focus, it is not hard to see why our sleep often suffers. When we spend our waking hours in a constant state of “on-the-go,” it can be hard to shut our bodies and minds off when bedtime rolls around.
If that is your case, and you are stressed and struggling to get proper sleep each night, increasing your exercise might be the answer.
How Exercise Helps Us Sleep
Regular exercise is commonly linked to better sleep quality. There are two main explanations for this phenomenon: increased sleep duration and an increase in deep sleep.
1. Sleeping Longer
Because physical movement requires energy, it likewise will leave you feeling more tired at the end of the movements.
Exercise typically increases sleep duration, meaning that those who exercise are generally able to sleep for longer bursts without waking up. Longer, deeper sleep means feeling more well-rested upon waking.
2. Sleeping More Deeply
When we exercise during the day, our body typically spends more time in the deep sleep phase at night as well. It is during this deep sleep phase that we feel truly restored and rested.
Exercise, Sleep, and Stress
Exercise is also linked to lower stress levels. When we exercise regularly, we tend to feel reduced stress and anxiety. And when we feel less stressed and anxious, we naturally sleep better.
The key is understanding what works for our individual bodies and recognizing that exercise may affect us all differently.
Keep the following in mind when considering how exercise and sleep affect each other:
Exercise releases endorphins, which create a sensation of euphoria and happiness in our brains. When we exercise, these endorphins uplift us and give us an energy boost.
Studies also show that exercise can help us remain more alert and awake during the day. That’s because the endorphins released during exercise help us fight back against daytime fatigue and provide mental and physical stamina when we need it most. When we spend our energy during the day, we are more likely to become tired at night.
Amount of Exercise
Each person requires a slightly different amount of exercise for peak performance. Because we all have unique body sizes, calorie needs, and energy levels, we all need an exercise plan that is tailored to us. The average recommended amount of exercise is 150 minutes each week, broken up into five 30-minute intervals.
Spend some time experimenting and discovering the right amount of exercise for your body. You may find that 150 minutes per week is enough or that you require more. After a few weeks of consistency, you should notice a positive difference in your sleep quality.
Time of Day
The best time of day for you to exercise will depend simply on your personal preference. Some people choose to exercise first thing in the morning to give themselves the energy boost needed to begin their day. Others prefer to exercise in the evening to help recover from a long day at work.
Over time, you will discover what works best for your sleep cycle. If you find that night time exercise is keeping you awake, try moving your workout an hour or two earlier in your day. Similarly, if you are still yawning hours after climbing out of bed, consider exercising before getting ready for the day.
The relationship between exercise and sleep is an individualized one. While we understand that exercise generally improves the quality of sleep, keep in mind that your needs will be different from someone else’s. If you have been feeling stressed or overwhelmed, try incorporating moderate amounts of exercise into your routine for better quality sleep!
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