If you ask anyone what two factors play the biggest part in leading a healthy lifestyle, the majority would be likely to tell you about their rigorous exercise regimens and sleep schedules that are set in stone. But what you may not have known already is that the two are more related than you might think.
Exercise and sleep coexist beautifully in terms of helping your day brighter and more productive, and being physical tends to help you look even more forward to hitting the hay than you would be if you were living a sedentary life. It’s been proven time and time again that those who get more exercise and are more active in general are more likely to catch some seriously high-quality sack time than those who tend to stay less active, either for lack of time or motivation.
Consequently, athletes and those that have a more physically demanding job or make hitting the gym a priority are more likely to take getting better sleep more seriously and make sure that they’re getting sufficient rest so they can be at their best athletic potential.
Which seems pretty sweet and to the point, right? Just go for a quick run in the daytime and prepare for major shut-eye improvement. While we all wish it could be this black and white, there’s more that goes into it than you’d think.
According to more than one study, there are numerous variables regarding exercise and sleep
which need tweaking depending on the person’s age, schedule, medical past, and injuries. The reason for keeping active and the type of activity most commonly used by an individual also has an effect on how it might change their sleep schedule and quality.
Basically, your exercise habits will have a certain effect on how you sleep
, and vice versa. But there isn’t a universal result like you might have thought.
So what can be learned about your sleep and exercise habits, what should you change or keep the same about them, and how do you make the most your time in and out of bed?
Let’s take a deeper look at physical activity and what it means for getting better sleep...
Exercise isn’t Just for Spring Chickens
Getting older doesn’t mean becoming less capable of getting up and at ‘em. In fact, many people only gain experience and strength with age. And continuing to push yourself during the day to get the payoff of a satisfying night of sleep is one more way to prove that.
Numerous studies have shown how mature adults who take part in any kind of activity during the day can see some super-worthy results when they get into bed at night.
Another study on older adults discovered that many are under the impression that because they’re getting up there in age, there’s no kind of physical activity they can really take part in without risking injuring themselves. And so, they don’t look any further into establishing a regular exercise routine.
Or they look into less physical and more mental types of exercise, like yoga, tai chi or mall walking. While that might not seem like older adults will get the same results from more relaxing and less physically demanding activities, we can’t leave out the huge role that the mental benefits of low-impact exercise.
More mindful exercisers not only found themselves sleeping better, they also discovered that they had an improved mood and less anxiety during the day, while the purely physical exercisers didn’t have that plus.
Which sheds a lot of light on how mood, sleep, and exercise are really a trifecta of bettering yourself.
Keep Yourself Busy
Boredom and lack of mental activity can be just as bad, and cause just as many issues with your sleep, as physical inactivity can. Boredom can make you stressed and anxious, but mental stimulation is not as hard to pack into your day as it might seem.
Getting your mind in shape doesn’t have to be a huge thing added to your already endless to-do list. You can just do some small things before bedtime to get rid of boredom and help yourself sleep like a baby.
Here are some ways to keep yourself sharp...
- Try something new!
- Try shopping in a different store
- Read a new book
- Do some puzzles
- Listen to music
- Do something with someone whose company you enjoy
- Take a different route to work or school
- Try a new food
- Make a new friend
Step Up Your Game
To be completely honest, the true science behind exercise and its effect on sleep is really still a mystery - all that’s known is that they’re a dynamic duo.
It’s also been found that those who stay active on a more regular basis or have a schedule that they like to stick to are more likely to see more clear and beneficial results. Which makes researchers think that the long-term benefits of health from exercising regularly are what truly leads to better sleep.
Unless you’re already a top-notch athlete and sleeper, there isn’t much more you can do regarding your sleep and exercise habits. More likely, if your activity level is stellar, you should turn an eye on your diet.
People who work out a lot but are lacking in quality sleep should try to focus on getting more protein and avoid fatty foods, while snacking on things like turkey and pumpkin seeds, which have tons of tryptophan, an amino acid that has been proven to make you nice and sleepy.
Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard
The vast majority of people who go from no exercise at all to hitting the gym every day are not going to be breaking fitness records or, poof,
get perfect abs and legs. The studies which correlate gym time and sleep time aren’t actually taking into account what you’re doing in the gym. It’s actually all about what you feel
like while you’re working out (and immeadiately afterwards), believe it or not.
It’s been proven that what you believe you’re achieving during your workouts is what puts you to sleep faster and better. If you truly feel like you’ve been pushing yourself to the limit (without driving yourself insane), you’ll probably be getting the same results as those churning out hours upon hours of lifting and sweating. It turns out that the way you see
your results is what gets you the best ones. Sweet, right?
You’ve Got Nothing But Time
Do you make it a priority for your workout to be the first part of your day? Or are you more likely to spring for a before-bed sweat sesh? It’s been debated for years which is the better choice, and many people have assumed that the time you choose to work out played a huge role in the ficial effects it ended up having on your sleep.
Some people seemed to think that exercising too close to bedtime would actually disturb your shut-eye schedule. But as it turns out, many studies have shown that nighttime and morning workouts both had some pretty great benefits for participants’ sleep. Just in different ways.
Researchers took psychological measurements of participants, such as their melatonin levels, body temperature levels and brainwave activity. What they found from the data was that morning exercise had great effects on sleep at night.
In a different group of participants, they found that getting a workout in just an hour and a half or more before bed could keep them in a deeper sleep for longer.
Although another study showed that resistance training increased the sleep quality
of study praticipants at any time of the day.
Basically, what we’re trying to tell you is that when
you work out really depends on the rest of your schedule, when it comes to getting better sleep. But the good nes is that you’re going to see some serious results no matter when you decide to head to the gym.
The only way you’re really going to get quality sleep through gym time is if you’re enjoying yourself when you’re there. A huge study discovered that people trying to come into sleep-luck by spending hours in the gym have other, equally (if not more so) important things to focus on, if they want to have any success. They should ask themselves why they’re doing it.
Most people who were studied and said that they got great sleep said that they go their exercise through doing things they really enjoyed. A lot of people said they would do things like hiking, swimming, biking, walking running and yoga to get their workouts in, because they liked those things. So in addition to getting the exercise they wanted, they had a sense of achievement and had enjoyed themselves
at the same time.
Those who worked out because they had to or simply forced themselves onto the treadmill in an attempt to lose weight or tire themselves out really were doing nothing but wasting time.
If you really want to get some quality sleep by working out, it’s crucial to make sure that you’re feeling the burn doing something you really like to do.
The Bottom Line
If you really want to give yourself some extra, quality rest using exercise, try squeezing about half an hour of activity into your day. Even if it’s divided into a few minutes every hour.
Best Ways to Get Started
- Hula hooping
- Jumping rope
- Lifting weights
- Dancing (even if you aren’t good)
Assuming you’re just now beginning to join the active world, you’re going to want to take it slow at first. Just for long enough to get yourself comfortable and built a stamina and routine for your future workouts.
All that matters is that you’re out there, feeling the burn in a way that is fun for you, and being able to rest easy in knowing that you’re going to be cashing in with some amazing sleep when you finally fall into bed
at the end of the day.