How To Improve Your Sleep With Exercise
The benefits of exercise are many, but did you know that it can help you get a better night’s sleep?
The importance of sleep for health and wellness can’t be overstated. And if that wasn’t enough, it seems that your workouts also reduce those energy-sapping moments of fatigue throughout the day.
There are many reasons many of us fail to feel rested when we wake in the morning, including:
- Anxiety and stress
- Sleep narcolepsy
- Restless legs syndrome
- Obstructive sleep apnoea
For many of us, high levels of stress caused by work, lifestyle and other worries make it impossible to switch off when we snuggle up under the covers. With almost 60% of Australians reporting some kind of sleep disorder*, introducing the power of exercise into your daily regime could be the answer we’ve been searching for….
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How does exercise affect sleep?
Surprisingly little research has been carried out into the exercise-sleep relationship. But of the studies that have been performed, there’s a strong link between exercise and the quality of sleep.
Of course, if you carry out a single session of intensive exercise that differs from your usual exertions then it makes sense that you might fall asleep faster and for longer, simply through exhaustion. But the real advantages come from carrying out the exercise on a regular basis. It takes around four weeks of carrying out moderate-intensity workouts for the benefits to begin to appear**. This includes the ability to fall asleep more quickly, as well the sleep being longer and of better quality.
The exact reasons why this is aren’t yet 100% clear. However, current hypotheses include the following:
- The increase in body temperature caused by exercise, followed by the corresponding drop, seems to promote the act of falling asleep.
- It appears to reduce levels of brain arousal, anxiety, and depression.
- There’s a possible effect on the body’s circadian rhythms.
- Having burned calories through exercise the body then conserves more energy during sleep to recover.
- Exercise goes hand in hand with modest weight loss, and this in itself aids the sleep process.
How much exercise do you need for improved sleep?
One interesting factor is that exercise of moderate-intensity seems to improve sleep quality, but more intense efforts don’t necessarily have the same effect (great news for those who don’t enjoy the efforts of fast-paced sport!).
National exercise guidelines are 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (or a combination of the two). In addition to the benefits of improved sleep, those who hit those targets also seem to experience the following:
- 65% less likely to suffer from daytime fatigue
- 68% less likely to experience leg cramps.
- 45% less likely to have reduced levels of concentration due to tiredness.
When to exercise?
Up until now, conventional wisdom has said that exercising close to bedtime isn’t conducive to good sleep. This was thought to be connected with the associated rise in body temperature that takes up to 90 minutes to fall post-effort. However, the latest research is beginning to debunk this theory, with no correlation between the timing of exercise and the quality of sleep.
The most important aspect is to listen to your body and get to know what works for you. It can be helpful to record the time you exercise and the quality of your sleep, as memory tends to be a less than accurate way to measure the relationship between the two.
The most important take-away is that the latest research registers a strong argument for the link between exercise and sleep quality. It appears to have an effect similar to that of sleeping pills, and we can all appreciate the benefits of not taking unnecessary medication.
While more research is needed, there’s no doubt that introducing exercise into your lifestyle has massive health advantages over and above that of losing weight and improving your body shape.
The experts at Bailey Fitness will be delighted to work with you to help determine the right course of physical activity that fits in with your goals. With an ethos that promotes exercise as fun, rather than a chore, not to mention a range of options to choose from, isn’t it time you discovered the many benefits of moderate exertion?
Visit www.baileyfitness.com.au to find your nearest gym and begin your journey to fitness, health and a better night’s sleep today…
About The Author:
Bailey Fitness was created by Adam Bailey, a Muay Thai expert, and WKN Australia Champion from Perth. Together with his wife Richelle. Bailey Fitness recognizes the importance of providing excellent service to all people – They look after their members and staff as though they are family, and they invest in the local community in which they operate.