Exercise and sleep go hand in hand. A healthy amount of the one is necessary to support the other. Lifestyle changes, such as healthy eating and regular exercise, can help you win the battle against insomnia.
How exercise can benefit insomnia
If you constantly have trouble falling asleep or wake up frequently during the night, you may feel tired the next day and completely depleted of energy. Stress and worries are some of the factors that cause insomnia. Exercise improves overall health, reduces stress and makes us feel good and relaxed, all of which promote sleep quality and quantity.
Most people are aware that exercise is “good for you”, but what does this mean? Not only does regular exercise improve lung function, help regulate blood pressure, build bone and muscle and lead to increased energy, but it also increases the production of endorphins. Endorphins are types of hormones that reduce stress and relax the muscles.
How exercise influences sleep
The type of exercise you participate in plays a role in how it affects sleep. Breathing and stretching exercises such as yoga, tai chi and qigong can help relax the mind and body. When we breathe properly (deeply), it sends signals to our brain that we are relaxed. If we breathe shallowly, the brain perceives that we are stressed and that we might have to respond to a threat and therefore we may not experience a deep sleep, as the brain wants the body to be ready to “flee or fight” at any time.
Research suggests that exercise should be at least three hours before bedtime, as exercise increase body temperature and body temperature needs to drop slightly before sleep sets in. Exercise also stimulates the heart, brain and muscles, and overstimulation can lead to sleeplessness.
How sleep influences exercise
Just as regular exercise improves sleep quality, sleep helps with getting the most out of exercise. Getting enough sleep on a regular basis can lead to improved immune, skeletal and muscular systems, improved memory and cognitive functions. The body needs the recovery time to restore and build muscle, and sleep also increases physical endurance and energy, making exercise more effective.
Regular exercise can help you feel, look and sleep better, and better sleep can help you feel, look and exercise better!