Exercising For Better Sleep

Can exercise affect sleep? Everything you need to know.

Sleep is a crucial aspect of our daily lives. It is important to get the recommended amount of sleep each night. Lack of sleep can lead to a number of health problems, including obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Fortunately, there are ways to improve your sleep and get the most out of your slumber. One way to improve sleep is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, which includes getting regular exercise.

Benefits of Exercise on Sleep

Exercise is beneficial for sleep for a number of reasons. First, exercise helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply. It also reduces stress levels, which can help you get more restful sleep. Additionally, exercise helps regulate your body’s natural clock, also known as your circadian rhythm. This means that you will be more likely to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

The connection between sleep and physical activity is positive as long as exercise is moderate to intense, not extreme. In one study published in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, participants were asked to take a day off from their regular exercise routine for two days or more, which resulted in reduced sleep quality. The same applied to a group of trained athletes who took a night off from their workouts compared to a control group that did not abstain from training.

The Best Type of Exercise To Improve Sleep

Elderly woman lap swimming in a pool, aerobic exercise for better sleep.The best type of exercise for improving sleep is aerobic exercise. This type of exercise gets your heart rate up and causes you to sweat, both of which help you relax and fall asleep. Some good aerobic exercises include walking, jogging, biking, and swimming. However, any form of exercise is better than no exercise at all. So if you don’t have time for a full workout, try taking a brisk walk or doing some stretching exercises.

These exercises all elevate your heart rate so that when your head hits the pillow at night, your heart rate will drop, and your body will relax quicker. It’s also important not to work out too close to bedtime because it can have the opposite effect on your body. If you work out too close to bedtime, your heart rate will stay elevated and may make it harder for you to fall asleep.

So, what exactly should you do before bed if you want to improve your chances of getting quality sleep? At first, physical activity will help you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply than usual. Maintaining this schedule long-term can create a positive feedback loop where the better quality sleep improves your overall health for the rest of the day, which then allows longer periods of high-quality slumber that evening.

It’s important not to go overboard with exercise right before bed because it can adversely affect sleeping time due to elevated heart rate and perspiration. If done properly, though, moderate workouts can work wonders before going to sleep at night!

What Time of Day Is Best To Exercise?

The time of day you should exercise depends on what type of exercise you’re doing. If you’re doing a light workout, such as yoga or stretching, then any time of the day is fine. However, if you’re doing more strenuous aerobic exercises, it’s best to do them in the morning or early afternoon, so they don’t interfere with your sleep at night.

According to Dr. Piotr Wozniak:

Man and woman walking for exercise outside on the sidewalk.“If possible, you should schedule that exercise early in the morning, or at least in the first 5 hours of the day. Morning exercise will affect your intellectual performance. You will most likely tire faster. However, this is also one of the factors why exercise should help you sleep better. Intense exercise late in the day may have the opposite effect and might delay your phase.

However, some forms of exercise will not have this effect as the phase-shifting stimuli will be counterbalanced by the amplification of the homeostatic sleep drive and the “fasting effect” that will help you sleep early. Those evening exercises should be free of stress, injury, emotion, etc. Gentle calisthenics, yoga, or stretching would be an example of harmless evening exercise. Perhaps even bodybuilding, if not too exciting or strenuous. This late exercise would best be performed in dim light and in absence of other rousing stimuli.”

How Does Sleep Impact Exercise?

When you don’t get sufficient quality sleep at night, you’ll likely experience many side effects. Common side effects of lack of sleep include: body aches upon waking up, fatigue throughout the day, or mid-day crashes where you feel completely exhausted even after a long period of wakefulness.

Tired man on a treadmill unable to exercise because of lack of sleep.In addition, when you don’t get enough sleep, your cognitive abilities may suffer as well. You may struggle with focus and concentration throughout the day or have trouble remembering things that recently happened. A good amount of research has been done on how lack of sleep impacts our exercise performance specifically. There’s also data on how it can impact regular daily activities such as driving.

After just one night of only four hours’ sleep, for example, you’re less able to concentrate and think clearly than if you’ve had too much to drink. This is because a tired brain doesn’t function properly. The evidence suggests that four hours of sleep can cause you to be 10 percent slower, and up to 50 percent less alert. After two weeks of four-hour nights in a row, you would have the same fitness as someone who’d had no sleep at all.

The Bottom Line

Exercise can improve sleep quality when done correctly. The best type of exercise for better sleep is aerobic exercise, which gets your heart rate up and causes you to sweat. Try to do moderate or intense workouts earlier in the day rather than later, and avoid strenuous exercises close to bedtime. Yoga or stretching can be done any time of the day and can help improve both sleep quantity and quality.