Exercising regularly can not only help you stay healthy but can also prove beneficial for your sleep. A light round of exercise done regularly helps reduce stress, combat sleeping disorders and improves sleep quality.
However, a lot of people have doubts about the time that they should pick for their exercise session in order to not adversely affect their sleep. Similarly, the type and the amount of exercise that one needs to do has also been debated frequently.
Therefore, here some facts that shall help you better understand how and why exercise helps us sleep better:
The Relationship Between Exercise and Sleep Quality
Several researchers have tried to study the relationship between exercise and sleep quality. Experts suggest that people need to track the quality of their sleep to understand exercise done at which time of the day proves more helpful.
A workout session too close to one’s bedtime has been observed in some to cause fatigue and stimulate your brain, making it difficult to fall asleep.
The amount of deep sleep that your body receives relies heavily on the quality and timing of your exercise. Sleeping positions can also have a very powerful impact on your sleep.
Recommended Types of Exercise
In order to receive a good night’s sleep, you should be aware of the type of exercise your body needs and the type which you should avoid.
Activities such as running, swimming, outdoor cycling, walking, jogging, etc. are considered to be types of aerobic exercises. Such activities involve the uptake of oxygen and conversion of carbohydrates into energy.
To understand how aerobic exercise helps sleep better, researchers at Northwestern University conducted a study by separating a group of 23 participants (most of whom were females above the age of 55) into groups.
While one of the groups was made to attend work out sessions of twenty minutes four days a week, another group did a 40-minute session for the same number of days.
The researchers also created a control group, in which the participants did not involve themselves into any form of aerobic exercises but took part in some light recreational activities.
After a span of 16 weeks, the researchers who published their findings in the journal Sleep Medicine, found an improvement in the quality of sleep among the participants who exercised regularly.
The Correct Amount of Exercise
Exercise does help you sleep better but overdoing it may still cause problems.
While different people can spend different amounts of time working out based on their routines, it is preferable to exercise at least for 150 minutes in the span of a week.
While that comes close to a 30-minute session five times a week, it is important that you exercise every day without gaps to not disrupt your routine.
Timing is Key
As mentioned before, the effects of exercising may vary depending on the timing of the exercise as far as your sleep is concerned. While some may find it difficult to fall asleep after exercising too close to bedtime, others may experience no problem at all.
Though there’s no solid evidence available when it comes to the timing of the exercise, experts recommend that scheduling your workout sessions sometime in the morning or afternoon is the most beneficial for a good night’s sleep.
The extra amount of sunlight that you are exposed to in the daytime is good for regulating your circadian rhythm.
Working out in the afternoon makes the circadian rhythm raise your body temperature which then cools gradually before bedtime. This brings your body temperature to an optimum level for the best possible sleeping experience. This is similar to the effect that a round of hot shower 60 to 90 minutes before sleeping can have.
This is also one of the reasons that exercising late in the evening is not widely recommended as it doesn’t allow the body the required time to cool itself down before bedtime.
Those who are still struggling to find the right time for exercising are welcome to try out all the possible hours and follow the time most beneficial for their sleep.
Exercise Can Benefit Your Sleep
Even as little as 10 to 30 minutes of light exercise every day can prove beneficial for your cardiovascular health, mental health, metabolism and your body weight management.
However, it is key that you stick to whatever routine you have established for working out as it directly affects the body’s internal clock.