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Does Exercise Improve Sleep?


We all know that exercising is good for our bodies, but not everyone realises the benefits exercise can have on our mind and our sleeping behaviours. Here we take a look at some of the reasons why exercising is so good for your sleep and why you should make more time for exercise in your evening routine.

1) Reduced stress and anxiety levels

A good and consistent exercise routine can work wonders for your stress levels and as stress is one of the most common causes of poor sleep, it goes without saying that exercise will help you get better sleep. In fact, just five minutes of exercise can stimulate your anti-anxiety response. Exercises that stimulate both the mind and body, like yoga, are especially good at slowing the nervous system and helping you to relax. Not only that but yoga and other stretching exercises can also help to lower your blood pressure, which will also give you improved sleep.

2) Improved sleep quality

Not only does exercising make it easier for you to fall asleep and stay asleep, it can also give you a better sleep quality! When you exercise consistently and regularly, you will experience each stage of the sleep cycle in a more balanced way. This means you will experience a more evenly balanced sleep experience and get the benefits from each stage of sleep, thus having an improved sleep quality.

3) Reduced risk of insomnia and other sleep disorders

There is a lot of scientific evidence to indicate that exercise can be a highly effective and natural therapy for sleep disorders, such as insomnia. A number of studies suggest that aerobic exercise, in particular, may have a positive effect on reducing the symptoms of insomnia and giving you a better sleep experience.  Exercising regularly over time can help to lessen the severity of an existing sleep disorder and eventually remove symptoms altogether, it can also help to regulate your breathing when you sleep and reduce the risk of suffering from sleep apnea.

4) Exercise can lessen your sleepiness during the day

Consistent physical activity is proven to reduce how sleepy you feel throughout the day. This means you are less likely to nap or fall asleep too early, allowing you improved sleep during the night. This is found to be the case in people of all ages and fitness levels. This could be because of a link between exercise and the positive effects it can have on conditions such a depression and obesity. By lessening the symptoms of these conditions, exercise also helps to reduce the effect they have on your sleep. This means you will experience better sleep as a result of more consistent exercise.

5) Improved sleep amounts

Not only can exercise give you a better sleep quality, it also helps you to sleep for a better amount of time and increase your nightly rest. Physical activity requires you to use a lot of energy which helps you to feel more tired at the end of the day. In particular, regular exercise routines help you stick to an evening routine, so your body knows when it will be time to sleep, which can also help you to get better sleep amounts.

But how do you make sure you're exercising properly to get the right results?

Even though exercise can give you improved sleep, getting too much exercise, or not exercising in the right way, can actually have a negative impact on your sleep.
It's important that you get the timing of your exercise right. If you exercise too soon to bedtime you'll find it harder to settle down. This is because your body and mind will feel too energised and stimulated, making it harder to settle into a calming sleep rhythm.
Your body temperature will usually stay elevated for around four hours after exercise, and your body needs to drop before you can settle into your sleep cycle. This means that exercising right before bed interferes with your sleep cycle and prevents you from feeling drowsy. It is, therefore, a good idea to avoid exercise in the three to four hours before you plan on going to bed.
Any type of exercise will help you to see an improvement in your sleeping behaviours, the important thing is to just get active. Whether you chose to go out jogging or cycling or doing weights or cardio at your local gym, every bit of exercise will help you get better sleep when you settle down for the night.
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