A lack of sleep can reduce your quality life in many ways, and is associated with poorer physical and mental health. Improving your sleep will help to reduce your risk of obesity and heart disease whilst improving your mental health, immune function, concentration and productivity. One of the most well-established methods to promote a restful night’s sleep is to engage in regular exercise.
It helps you sleep deeper, for longer. Exercise increases the time spent in deep sleep, the most physically restorative sleep phase. In addition to improving the quality of sleep, exercise also can help you increase the duration of sleep. Improved sleep gives you more energy and more energy makes it easier to exercise – it’s a wonderful cycle!
It reduces stress and anxiety
If you’ve ever laid in bed at night worrying about a deadline or feeling anxious for no reason at all, you’re not alone. Being stressed is one of the most common reasons for disturbed sleep, and it can cause both trouble falling asleep and restlessness during the night. The good news is that regular exercise is excellent for reducing stress levels. Being physically active can help to reduce cortisol levels, improve your mood, and help to manage anxiety.
It can help you with Chronic Insomnia
Chronic insomnia, defined as difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, awakening too early in the morning, or nonrestorative sleep, is the most common sleep disorder among adults. Little research has been conducted on the effect of exercise on chronic insomnia. However, the studies that have been performed suggest that exercise significantly improves the sleep of people with chronic insomnia. Despite the benefits of a good night’s sleep, poor sleep patterns are increasingly common in Australia. Data shows that approximately one in three people are regularly struggling with sleep. (1)
The findings from an extensive study examining the connection between activity patterns and sleep cycles found that when compared to no activity at all, exercise was associated with better sleep habits. This included activities such as walking, cycling, running, weight-lifting, yoga and Pilates. The study also found that these effects on sleep are even stronger for activities that are more purposeful to the individual such as gardening, running or golf.
What types of exercise you can do to improve your sleep
Aerobic (or Cardio) Exercise
Activities that get your heart rate up, such as running, brisk walking, cycling, and swimming, have been shown to improve sleep and reduce the effects of insomnia. Even small bouts, such as 10 minutes may help, though the goal is to get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity (or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity) aerobic exercise each week. If you’re new to exercise, it’s best to start slow and gradually build to these levels.
Lifting weights has been shown to improve the quality of sleep, and it can also help you fall asleep faster and wake up less frequently throughout the night. So try doing some bodyweight exercises like push-ups, squats and lunges that will make you stronger.
Yoga’s relaxing poses and stretches, as well as the calming breathing exercises that accompany them, may be beneficial if stress is what’s keeping you from falling asleep. Those with insomnia who do yoga daily for eight weeks are likely to fall asleep faster and increase the amount of time that they spend sleeping. (3)
If you would like further guidance on starting an exercise program to help assist you with achieving a good night sleep, please feel free to contact the Revitalize team on (03) 9016 3415.