Does Exercise Help Sleep Better?

Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Studies over the years have shown a strong connection between physical activity and better sleep quality. I have recommended and experienced first-hand the powerful connection between exercise and sleep as a certified sleep expert.

We all know exercise and sleep are critical components of a healthy lifestyle, and neglecting either one can have negative consequences for your physical and mental well-being.

In this article, I will explain how exercise and sleep are connected and how you can benefit from them. We'll delve into the science behind how exercise can improve sleep quality, the best types of exercise for better sleep, and how much exercise is necessary to reap the benefits.

Benefits of Exercise for Sleep

Improved sleep quality

Exercise improves sleep quality and individuals who exercise regularly report feeling more rested and refreshed after a night's sleep. Our bodies need deep, restorative slow-wave sleep to repair and recharge, and exercise helps in increasing the same. 

Exercise also reduces the amount of time spent awake during the night, making sleep more restful and consolidated.

Increased sleep duration

Exercise increases sleep duration. People who exercise regularly sleep more, which means they get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep every night. 

Exercise can also help our body's circadian rhythm, which tells us when to go to sleep and when to wake up. Maintaining a regular exercise routine helps in proper sleep at night which means you will wake up energized in the morning.

Reduced insomnia symptoms

Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or both. Regular physical activity tends to decrease the severity of insomnia symptoms, making it easier for individuals to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. 

Additionally, it alleviates symptoms of anxiety and depression, which are often linked to insomnia.

The Science Behind Exercise and Sleep

There is a strong scientific connection between exercise and better sleep. It's no secret that regular exercise can have numerous positive effects on the body, including improved cardiovascular health, weight loss, and mental well-being. However, not many people understand the relationship between exercise and sleep.

Explanation of the role of exercise on the body's internal clock

Let's first discuss the benefits of exercise on our body's internal clock, also known as the circadian rhythm. 

Morning exercise or physical activity such as running helps to regulate the circadian rhythm as it increases our exposure to natural light, which enables us to synchronize our body's internal clock with the external environment. This synchronization helps in a healthy sleep-wake cycle and can improve sleep quality and duration.

How exercise promotes relaxation and reduces stress

Exercise can have a significant impact on promoting relaxation and reducing stress, both of which can have a significant impact on our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

Any strenuous activity or exercise releases endorphins in our bodies. They are natural painkillers that reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. It also reduces the levels of the stress hormone called cortisol, which is known to disrupt our sleep if its level rises in our body.

The relationship between exercise and the production of sleep-promoting hormones

Melatonin is a hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in our brains, and it helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle. Several studies have demonstrated that exercising can lead to a greater production of melatonin in our bodies, which in turn can lead to better sleep as a result.

Best Types of Exercise for Better Sleep

Aerobic exercise:

Cardio or aerobic exercises like jogging, running, and swimming increase our heart rate and breathing. Research has shown that aerobic exercise can improve our sleep in multiple ways. To begin with, it is very helpful in reducing the amount of time it takes for you to fall asleep, also known as sleep latency.

Aerobic exercise also increases the production of serotonin in our bodies which helps regulate our sleep cycles.

Moreover, aerobic exercise has also been shown to increase the amount of deep sleep. It is during this stage of sleep that the body repairs and restores itself.

It is also known to reduce the symptoms of sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea. Poor sleep is directly associated with sleep disorders.

Resistance training:

Resistance training or strength training involves using weights or resistance to build muscle and has some impact on sleep. Although it may not be as significant as aerobic exercise but it still improves sleep quality.

One of the main ways that resistance training helps to improve sleep is by reducing stress and anxiety levels. Resistance training triggers the release of endorphins that promote feelings of happiness and relaxation. It can help reduce stress and anxiety.

It also regulates the sleep-wake cycle by increasing the production of melatonin.

Yoga and stretching:

Similar physical activities we discussed above, yoga reduces stress, promotes relaxation, and makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Yoga involves a combination of deep breathing techniques, stretching, and various poses or postures that can help release tension in the muscles, relieve stress, and calm the mind. Regular yoga can help you sleep better by reducing the amount of time to fall asleep, increasing deep sleep, and reducing sleep interruptions.

Stretching, on the other hand, increases flexibility and mobility in the body, reducing tension in the body and promoting relaxation.

This can be particularly helpful for people who have tight muscles or feel stiff, as this can make it difficult to fall asleep comfortably. Stretching also improves blood circulation and reduces the risk of cramps or discomfort during the night.

Timing of Exercise for Optimal Sleep

Best time of day for exercise

The best time of day for exercise can vary from person to person. Some people prefer to exercise in the morning to start their day off right, while others prefer to exercise in the afternoon or evening to release stress and tension from the day.

However, exercising too close to bedtime can make it more difficult to fall asleep, as it raises your body temperature and increases your heart rate and metabolism.

How to avoid exercise-induced insomnia

It's important to time your exercise right to avoid exercise-induced insomnia. As a sleep expert, I always suggest a gap of at least three to four hours between bedtime and exercise. This gives your body enough time to cool down and return to its natural state before bed.

Additionally, it is important to listen to your body and adjust your exercise routine accordingly. If you find that evening exercise is affecting your sleep, listen to your body and adjust your routine as needed to promote optimal sleep hygiene.

Other Lifestyle Changes to Improve Sleep

Proper nutrition:

What we eat and drink can have a significant impact on our sleep quality. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and heavy meals close to bedtime. Instead, consuming foods high in magnesium, such as leafy greens, nuts, and whole grains, can help relax muscles and promote sleep.

Additionally, incorporating foods rich in tryptophan, such as turkey, eggs, and milk, can help stimulate the production of serotonin and melatonin, both of which are important for regulating sleep.

Creating a sleep-conducive environment:

The sleep environment plays a crucial role in our sleep quality. Having a cool, dark, and quiet bedroom can help you sleep better. Similarly, investing in a comfortable mattress and bedding according to your body type can also contribute to better sleep quality.

It is also important to minimize screen time and use of electronics before bed, as the blue light emitted from screens can hamper the body's production of melatonin.

Stress reduction techniques:

By now we know stress and anxiety can have a significant impact on our sleep quality and it is extremely important to manage these factors. It is better to adopt healthy sleep routines and techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga. Include regular exercise in your daily life to improve your overall health and sleep quality.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, a good exercise regimen and better sleep go hand in hand. As a certified sleep expert, I have highlighted numerous benefits that exercise can have on our sleep quality.

Exercise can help us fall asleep faster, but also increases our deep sleep and overall sleep duration. Additionally, regular exercise can reduce the likelihood of developing sleep disorders such as insomnia or sleep apnea.

Having said that exercise alone is not a guaranteed solution to sleep problems. It should be coupled with a healthy sleep routine that includes good sleep hygiene practices such as sticking to a consistent sleep schedule and creating a relaxing sleep environment.

I recommend everyone to make exercise a part of their healthy sleep routine. Even small amounts of physical activity, such as 20 minutes of exercise or walking, can improve sleep quality.

So, whether you prefer running, yoga, or dancing, find an activity that you enjoy and make it a regular part of your routine. Not only will it improve your sleep, but it will also benefit your overall health and well-being.


Write A Comment

Pin It