Want Better Sleep? Get Better Exercise!

How many benefits of exercise can you name off the top of your head right now? There are the obvious ones, such as improving heart health, elevating your mood, and helping you lose body fat. But there’s one more benefit you may not have thought of: improving your sleep!  

The National Sleep Foundation recently sent out a poll which thousands of people responded to. And the statistics are pretty eye-opening: 83% of people who claim to exercise vigorously on a regular basis also report sleeping more, feeling more refreshed when they wake up, and having an easier time falling asleep at night. Only 56% of respondents who did not exercise on a regular basis reported similar sleep patterns. Now, we know that correlation and causation are two very different things. But the obvious correlation identified in the study definitely begs some further questions.

But that’s not the only data we have about sleep which suggests that more exercise and better rest are intrinsically connected. There are dozens of studies which show additional correlations between increased activity levels and hormone regulation; specifically with regard to hormones that regulate sleep. Some studies show an optimal connection between exercise and good sleep if your exercise schedule closely follows your normal daily circadian rhythm. But that isn’t exactly the case for everyone. So how, exactly, can you optimize your exercise routine in order to get the best possible sleep? We did some digging, and we found some interesting answers. Get ready to learn everything you need to know about optimizing your exercise for the best possible sleep!

Choosing the Right Time to Workout

Our bodies – and our metabolism – are closely connected with the natural circadian rhythm of the earth. We know that sounds a little bit hippie dippy, but hear us out. There’s plenty of scientific evidence to suggest that the bright light and rising temperatures which come with sunrise cause physiological triggers in our bodies. These triggers signal our brain to wake up and get active. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or just stay healthy in general, it’s a good idea to take advantage of this window of opportunity and do as much of your exercise before noon – preferably outside – as you can.

Unfortunately, that isn’t a realistic option for many. Some people can only squeeze in a workout in the afternoon, in the evening after dinner, or maybe even late at night right before bed. Some old-school fitness experts may tell you that exercising past a certain point in the late afternoon or early evening is going to be harmful to your sleep. But at the end of the day, any exercise is better than no exercise at all. Even if it happens right before sleep. Just listen to your body and do what you think is best. If you have trouble falling asleep as quickly but you feel that you get a deeper, more restful sleep after a late night workout session, then there you go! Keep trying different workouts at different times of day to see how it influences your nightly sleep pattern.

Keep Your Workouts Simple, but Effective

Our society has a problem. We believe that more is better in almost every single scenario. But this is not always the case; and it is especially not the case when it comes to sleep and exercise. Getting little or no exercise at all is not very healthy. Furthermore, getting too much exercise can be almost equally problematic.

According to the survey we just mentioned, people who spend more than one hour per day exercising vigorously did report more sleep problems than people who exercise for less than an hour a day. This can cause problems with your sleep in ways that are subtle and seemingly unconnected. But it could also have a more direct effect on your ability to get to sleep. Injuries will obviously cause you pain and may make it difficult to fall asleep at night. Soreness from excessively strenuous exercise can have a similar effect. So you’ve got to be careful when it comes to nailing down the right exercise routine.

Have You Ever Tried Yoga?

Let’s revisit that survey we mentioned at the beginning of this article. Believe it or not, most of the people out there who are sleeping like babies and making us jealous have a direct connection to their inner chakras. The study showed that all the yogi fanatics out there are the ones most likely to get their recommended 7 – 8 hours of sleep, especially compared to people who aren’t exercising at all. Also, according to the study, yoga seems to be more effective than walking when it comes to helping our bodies get the amount of sleep we need.

Why is this? It’s partly due to the fact that stress has a major influence on your sleep. When you are stressed out, it is difficult to chill out and fall asleep quickly. This can definitely cut into your sleep time and create an unhealthy sleep deficit. But the deep breathing and relaxation techniques common in most yoga practices bleed over from the fitness realm into the mental wellness room. So strike that lotus pose, and give some yoga a try if you want to sleep better at night!

A Little Post-exercise “Me Time” Can Give You a Lot More Sleep Time

This advice is helpful for anyone whose busy, stressful day tends to follow them into the evening hours. But it’s also great for people who have no choice but to squeeze in a workout routine right before bed. Give yourself at least a little bit of time to wind down after your workout before you put your head on the pillow. You could read a book, take a nice warm bath, or purge tomorrow’s worries from your brain by writing them down in your bullet journal. Meditation is also good. No matter what the activity is, give your mind and your body some distance between the gym and the bedroom. It’ll make your exercise more effective and improve your overall sleep quality. It’s also an essential part of any good sleep hygiene routine!

Calm Your Late-Night Post-Workout Excitement With a Natural Sleep Aid

If you can only work out at night, but you still find yourself awake and restless because of the exercise, then you might want to consider an all natural sleep aid in order to help bring you down. It should contain things like melatonin, 5-HTP, and even lemon balm to get the most effective results. Combined with a healthier exercise routine, natural herbal sleep aids can also improve your overall quality sleep so that you feel well rested and refreshed when you get up the next day. It sounds too good to be true – but it really works!