Wellness Initiative - Be Fit
Exercise to Sleep Better
How can exercise affect your sleep?
Exercise can give a boost to sleep in several ways. Making time to exercise can…
Improve sleep quality. Exercise can contribute to more sound and restful sleep. Physical activity increases time spent in deep sleep, the most physically restorative sleep phase. Deep sleep helps to boost immune function, support cardiac health, and control stress and anxiety.
Increase sleep amounts. In addition to improving the quality of sleep, exercise also can help you increase the duration of your nightly rest. Being physically active requires you to expend energy, and helps you feel more tired and ready to rest at the end of the day. Research indicates that exercise—in particular, regular exercise that’s part of a consistent routine—can help boost sleep duration, in addition to sleep quality.
Reduce stress and relieve anxiety. A regular exercise routine can help to reduce your stress levels. Stress is a common cause of sleep problems, including trouble falling asleep and sleeping restlessly during the night. Exercise is a potent remedy for anxiety and other mood disorders—just 5 minutes of exercise can trigger anti-anxiety responses in the body. Mind-body exercise such as yoga can help quiet the parasympathetic nervous system, which can help you relax. Research shows that mind-body exercises such as yoga and stretching can help to lower cortisol levels and reduce blood pressure, as well as having positive effects on mood.
Help with insomnia and other sleep disorders.
Scientific evidence indicates that exercise can be an effective natural therapy for insomnia. We have a lot to learn about how exercise may help treat insomnia and other sleep disorders. Studies suggest that aerobic exercise may be particularly effective in helping reduce insomnia symptoms. Research also indicates that for people with insomnia, the benefits of exercise kick in over time, rather than immediately. Studies have also found that exercise can help lower the severity of sleep disordered breathing and may help to reduce the severity of obstructive sleep apnea.
How much exercise is right?
There is no one right answer to this question. The National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association recommend at least 150 minutes of exercise a week for healthy adults—that’s 30 minutes a day, five days a week. Studies indicate that sleep may receive some of its most significant benefits from exercise that is consistent and routine over time, especially for people who experience difficulty sleeping.
It may surprise you to hear, but too much exercise can pose problems for sleep. Many people don’t give it much thought, but over-training is a common problem—and can lead to sleep difficulties. In fact, one of the first symptoms of over-training is insomnia and difficulty sleeping, according to research.
Your nutrition choices before, during and after activity can help you stay strong and recover better. Here’s a breakdown of what your body needs to fuel a heart-healthy workout and recovery, courtesy of a Johns Hopkins nutritionist.
Breus, M. (2017, May 22). The Benefits of Exercise For Sleep - Your Guide to Better Sleep. Retrieved from thesleepdoctor.com