Dance Your Way to Better Sleep!
Let’s dance! It’s spring, we’re feeling good, and history has given us another reason to celebrate! April 29th is International Dance Day, and we encourage you to use it as an opportunity to just get down! Because as it turns out, dancing is also a great way to get better sleep! Why’s that? Exercise, of course!
The ways that dancing can help you get better sleep are nearly endless, but first, let’s give International Dance Day its due. International Dance Day began as the International Theater Institute’s way of celebrating the life of Jean-Georges Noverre, the spiritual founder of modern ballet. Noverre was so successful in his time that he counted the famous French author Voltaire and composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart among his friends!
His famous “Letters on Dancing and Ballets” serves is still used to this day, over 200 years after it was first published! It revolutionized how people thought about ballet, taking the emphasis away from technique and more on telling a dramatic story. Noverre was born on April 29th, 1727, so in honor of his birth, we celebrate International Dance Day.
As beautiful as ballet is, you don’t necessarily have to twinkle your toes to get your workout on. Any kind of dance can be great to work out with, and here’s why!
Dancing Exercises You in Many Different Ways!
No matter how you slice it, the amount of movement you have whenever you dance can’t help but make you healthier. It’s an aerobic exercise that’s fun, so you’re more inclined to do it! More than that, it can be done alone, with a partner, anywhere, or… heck, let’s just make a list! Here’s why dancing is a terrific way to exercise!
- It’s good for your heart: Dancing can lower your risk of heart disease by up to 50%! This is especially true for people over 40. Again, the type of dance doesn’t matter, just be consistent, get up, and cut a rug!
- It challenges your brain as well as your body: Having to learn dance steps for more formal types of dances forces you to concentrate. As a result, you will get mentally fit as well.
- It burns lots of calories: On average, a 30-minute dance class burns 130-250 calories. This is about the same as a good, brisk jog!
- It targets multiple parts of your body: Depending on which type of dance you choose, dancing can work your core, arms, legs, glutes, and back. Hip-hop, ballet, and club dancing, in particular, work your entire body all at once!
- It’s relatively inexpensive: While dance lessons can be costly, there’s no reason you can’t dance at home. Just learn steps and technique from videos on the internet.
- It provides multiple benefits simultaneously: Dancing is a full body aerobic workout that can be high or low intensity. That’s why it’s good for your heart, and also improves your flexibility and joint mobility.
- It can help you socialize: As nice as it might be to save money by dancing at home, joining a dance class is even better! Salsa, ballroom, and other dances that require a partner allow people to meet, connect, and put their nervousness aside. This is also why…
- It’s especially good for older folks: We mentioned the over-40 heart benefits before, but there’s much more to this point. While hip-hop or other high impact dancing styles may be a little dangerous for seniors, dancing is generally really beneficial for the older set. It gets them out moving, meeting people, and not letting their minds and bodies go stagnant. Older people are often unmotivated to engage in activity, but dancing bridges that gap. Why?
- It’s fun: We said it before, and we’ll say it again: dancing is fun! Whether alone or with a partner, it’s is a great exercise because people usually enjoy doing it. Unlike getting out to an expensive gym and pushing yourself to your breaking point, many people dance just for the heck of it. If it can improve your health, so much the better.
With all of these benefits, why wouldn’t you celebrate International Dance Day? If you need more convincing though, here’s what we think is the most important factor:
Exercise Helps You Get Better Sleep!
Now that we know why there’s an International Dance Day and how dancing helps you exercise, let’s talk about how exercise can help you get better sleep! We know dancing is a great way to get the half hour of regular daily exercise that experts recommend. It’s fun, inexpensive, can be challenging or easy – clearly one of the best exercises you can do. If it also helps you get better sleep, we should all be on the dance floor already, right?
Before we get started, here are a couple of myths to debunk:
First, it does not matter how soon before bed you exercise. In the past, scientists believed that because difficult exercise releases the stress hormone cortisol, exercising before bed would make sleep difficult. Now, however, scientists believe that cooling down from exercise works like a Lull mattress does, causing a change in temperature that promotes sleep. This means that whether you exercise in the morning or evening doesn’t matter – it will help you get better sleep.
Secondly, to be completely honest, the positive effects of exercise on sleep take about 16 weeks to take effect. Consistency is important, which is another way the fun of dancing is helpful. Here’s the thing though: better sleep helps you exercise better too! Once you put in enough time, you’ll not only be able to sleep better, but exercise longer as well! This allows your exercise to help you more, and the two working together make you healthier overall. Not a bad deal, eh?
Here are some other great benefits of exercise on sleep:
- Exercise improves your sleep quality: Working out during the day increases “slow-wave, or deep sleep,” according to studies. This is the stage right before REM sleep, and it’s when your body relaxes to rest muscles and replace cells. Deep sleep improves your memory and is when you get natural human growth hormone from your pituitary gland, so it’s very important for young people too.
- Exercise reduces stress: Though difficult exercise may release cortisol, many psychological studies show that regular physical activity decreases stress and anxiety overall. Specifically, just five minutes of aerobic exercise (like dancing) is enough to trigger exercise’s anxiety-reducing effects!
- Exercise is safer than sleeping pills: Though popular with people suffering from frequent insomnia, sleeping pills are unsafe. They’re effective but have possibly dangerous side effects like any other drug. A fun exercise like dancing avoids the pharmacy – and the risk – altogether.
- Exercise can correct your sleep cycle: If your natural sleep cycle or “circadian rhythm” has been thrown off by travel or staying up too late, exercise can correct that. Your circadian rhythm is your biological clock, which keeps you awake during daylight hours and makes you sleepy when it’s dark. It responds to both heat and light from the sun. A good workout during the day or morning hours creates a natural cooling effect over time. This is especially effective if you exercise outdoors in sunlight, and then get to bed two hours or so later.
- Exercise helps with sleep apnea: A recent study of people who suffer from sleep apnea showed a 25% improvement with moderate exercise – and without losing weight! Sleep apnea is a disorder where people temporarily stop breathing while sleeping. It’s more common in overweight individuals, and normally requires surgery for this level of relief! Other treatments call for a reduction in body mass, but it seems that exercise alone can sometimes do the trick.
- Exercise helps with Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): Restless Leg Syndrome is a nervous system disorder that creates a random urge to move your legs. This makes it difficult to sleep, but exercise can help with this too. Working out gets more blood flow to your leg muscles and releases both endorphins and dopamine. Together, these brain chemicals reduce RLS pain to make sleep possible.
- Exhaustion from exercising naturally causes sleep: It’s kind of a no-brainer but should be said that when you’re tired, you feel sleepy. Working, dancing or playing hard will wear your body out, and if you have a gel-infused memory foam mattress, it’ll put you out as soon as you hit the pillow! Speaking of which…
- A high-quality mattress helps exercise put you to sleep: What makes Lull the best memory foam mattress for exercise and sleep is that it cools the body after a good workout. Lull mattresses transfer heat, keeping the body at a cool 69 degrees, which induces sleep naturally.
Regardless of why International Dance Day began, it’s an opportunity for all of us to have a lot of fun and sleep better. Dancing is a great form of exercise because we enjoy it, and that makes it easy to do regularly. No matter what kind of dance you choose, dancing’s benefits seem limitless. Sleeping is practically a bonus that – like exercise itself – can make you healthier, happier, and live longer as a result. We can all boogie to that!