Exercise and Sleep
Written by: Emma Anius
Ever have trouble staying asleep, or even getting to sleep and didn’t know why or how to stop it? Insomnia is when you have trouble falling or remaining asleep through the night. Most adults have experienced insomnia or sleeplessness at one time or another in their lives. It has been known to happen due to several factors namely from stress, anxiety, depression, eating habits, medication, caffeine, tobacco consumption. Due to the extensive list of potential factors that can contribute to developing insomnia it is hard to pin point the exact cause for each individual, this is why sleeping pills have become such a hot commodity grossing over 2 billion dollars in sales (2004).
But instead of spending hundreds of dollars a year on medication to help you sleep, wouldn’t you rather a natural, drug free approach to cure your sleepless nights?
Exercise has been shown to help improve sleepless nights, one of the reasons scientists say exercise encourages sleep is because it causes your body temperature to rise and then fall steadily. This drop in body temperature makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep; exercise also helps alleviate feelings of depression, anxiety and stress, which are also factors that contribute towards insomnia.
Although exercise has been shown to help improve quality of sleep, its all dependent on the type and the time of day you choose to exercise. Studies have shown that 20 minutes of aerobic exercises such as walking, or running is the best form of exercise to engage in to promote a full nights sleep. If you are unable to participate in cardiovascular activities due to injury or illness, you do have an avenue you can explore; strength training, stretching and yoga, have also been shown to be beneficial in improving sleep but the benefits they give aren’t as great as the benefits of cardiovascular exercise. Due to the positive effect that the drop in body temperature has on your sleep, studies suggest that the best time to exercise is 6 hours before you sleep, exercising vigorously right before bed or within about three hours of your bedtime can actually make it harder to fall asleep as it simulates your heart, brain and muscles. If you are more of a morning person you can still experience benefits towards your sleep. Morning exercising has been shown to relieve stress and improve mood, which indirectly improves sleeping habits, studies also show that to experience the best results you should exercise outside. Being exposed to natural light in the morning, whether you’re exercising or not, can improve your sleep at night by reinforcing your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
Whatever the form of exercise you decide to take up to help improve your sleep, consistency is key, the longer you stick with exercising the longer the benefits will last. Remember if you do not currently exercise the effects may take a while to take place, studies have reported to show no improvements for 16 weeks and others a lot shorter, but do not get disheartened as exercising brings so many other benefits to your quality of life. You will feel a lot more energetic, your mood will be improved and not to mention all the health benefits exercising regularly gives you.
Looking after your body is the key to healthy living.
If you have no time to exercise or don’t know where to begin:
Sumo squat x 10, squat x 10, push ups x 10, burpes x 10, front raise x 10
Sumo squat x 20, squat x 20, push ups x 20, burpes x 20, front raise x 20
- For help with the exercises go to www.facebook.com/cyanfitness and view the photos
Note: Emma Anius is a Personal Trainer for Cyan Fitness promoting a ‘healthy life and a better you.’