Among its many benefits, including decreased stress, weight control and disease prevention, it has extra benefits including better sleep. But the type of exercise and the time you choose to exercise can have a huge effect on the benefits your exercise has.
Exercises done in the morning are often the best way to get the most out of the exercises. Exercising in the morning is also a great way to make sure you exercise consistently as it prevents you from pushing them aside when you get busy with the demands of the day. Working out in the early hours has an added bonus when it comes to the end of the day too - deeper sleep at night. In fact, people who work out in the morning usually sleep longer and experience deeper sleep cycles than those who exercise later in the day. Also, exercising outdoors in the morning gets you, your daily dose of sunshine, which can help regulate your sleep/wake cycle and improve your sleep even further.
If you're not a morning person and an early workout session isn’t for you, you’re in luck! Working out in the afternoon also has its benefits for both your daily performance and your sleep patterns. Because your body temperature is one or two degrees higher in the afternoon, your muscles can work more efficiently, so you have a lower risk of injury. Additionally, afternoon workouts—particularly aerobic ones—have extra benefits when it comes to improving your sleep. Afternoon aerobic workouts may even help with overcoming sleep disorders such as insomnia, helping you to fall asleep quicker and sleep through the night instead of waking up frequently. This may be linked to the fact that exercises cause your core body temperature to rise for up to five hours, after that, your core will begin to cool down, signalling your body that it's time to sleep.
When to avoid exercise
To ensure the best night's sleep, you should avoid strenuous cardio workouts in the late evening or right before bed. The boost in body temperature that comes with cardio exercises, along with their stimulating nature, might prevent your body from winding down efficiently and could cause you to have trouble getting to sleep. If you want to get in some pre-bedtime movement, yoga or a simple stretch routine can be a great way to help loosen your muscles and help you relax ready for a restless night.
But of course, every individual is different and it’s important to note that late workouts don’t have the same effect on everyone. If you do exercise later in the day and find that it isn't interfering with your sleep then don't feel the need to change your routine, as this could disrupt your body clock and actually make it harder for you to sleep.
So now that you know more about the best times to exercise, what about the best exercises for improving your sleep?
Here's our list of great exercises to help you sleep better:
Aerobic exercises are a great way to get your heart rate up. Examples include running, brisk walking, cycling and swimming. Even small bouts of these high-energy exercises can help battle sleep disorders such as insomnia. Though as little as 10 minutes can help you get to sleep faster and help you sleep better and longer, the recommended goal is to hit 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week.
Working at building your muscles can also improve the way you sleep by improving how fast you fall asleep and how deeply you sleep. Try doing exercises such as shoulder presses, bicep curls, abdominal crunches, and push-ups, that will help build your strength, muscles and improve the quality of sleep.
Yoga is a great exercise to help you sleep better. As well as the calming breathing exercises involved with yoga workouts, the relaxing poses and stretches can help tire out your body to help you fall asleep faster. Because of its meditative nature, yoga can also help decrease the stresses that keep you awake. Daily yoga can also help people with insomnia by helping them fall asleep more easily and stay asleep for longer.
Because you can do stretching exercises with very little equipment, and within your own home, they're a great option if you find it difficult to get out to a gym or fitness class. Stretching is a great way to loosen and tire out your muscles and prepare your body for better sleep at night.
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