We all know exercise is good for us. This is a consensus we hear from doctors and other experts. In our culture, this fact is promoted to us constantly through tv, internet, advertising, and more. Still, many of us neglect our recommended daily workout. After a long day, many of us are too tired and cannot be bothered heading to the gym to feel the burn. Stimulating our body and our mind seems like the wrong thing to do before heading to bed. This, especially for those with insomnia, can lead to staying up extra late and cause tiredness in the morning.
What may motivate you to lace up your running shoes is the fact that exercise can improve your sleep. Not only can exercise help improve the quality of your sleep, it can help you fall asleep faster. Experts recommend that only 30 minutes is needed to help induce these benefits. This includes those with chronic sleep issues, such as insomnia.
To unlock this secret benefit, the right kind of exercising needs to be chosen. The wrong kind of exercise will keep your brain and body stimulated long after bedtime. At worst, they can cause muscle aches and pains that can make sleep more difficult in the long term. Finding the right exercise is essential for keeping a good sleep cycle that is consistent and promotes good levels of quality sleep and energy during the day.
A good way of easing yourself into physical activity before bed is sleeping. Because it’s an individual, leisurely exercise, you can move at your own pace. This will prevent you from pushing yourself too hard and hurting yourself, or feeling overstimulated. Swimming is a highly effective exercise without feeling like you’re overexerting yourself. This means you can engage in a lot of physical activity without even realising it.
A session of swimming burns 350-420 calories per hour. This allows you to burn off a lot of energy in a relaxing manner, putting you in a good mode for sleep. Swimming uses all your muscles as you move through the water, helping make you extra tired before bed. It is also a major form of stress relief, promoting the hormones needed to fall asleep. Worrying before bed is a major problem for many of us, and swimming can help resolve that and grant us a few extra hours of sleep.
Just like swimming, the leisurely pace of yoga can work to your benefit when it comes to sleep. Its ability to use all your muscles and promote stress-busting hormones all helps bring sleep closer. This can also help promote better quality sleep, involving deeper, Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. This form of sleep has better energy-restoring qualities for the next day.
What makes yoga particularly beneficial for sleep is its breathing techniques. Your ability to control your breathing into a more relaxed state while doing yoga poses will help you at bedtime. Typical breathing technique for yoga involves inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. This should be done in a slow and steady manner. This sort of breathing pattern is recommended to promote falling asleep faster, as it promotes the hormones needed to induce sleep.
Traditional Exercise – To an Extent
Aerobic exercise is popular for a reason, and can work in your favour for sleep – if used correctly. An aerobic workout is defined as any cardio activity. Aerobic literally translates to “oxygen”, because the activity causes deeper breathing due to an increased heart rate.
This can be a double-edged sword when it comes to sleep. Certain aerobics will stimulate the mind and body in a manner that will result in less hours of, and likely poorer quality, sleep. It is important to choose carefully if doing aerobics before bed. One expert tip is “the talk test”. This test involves measuring an exercise’s intensity by testing if you can still talk while engaging in the activity. If not, this is likely too stimulating to fall asleep shortly after finishing the activity.
Rather than unorganised cardio where the heart and oxygen levels are unregulated, resistance exercise is much more controlled. Resistant exercise concentrates on the slow challenging and building up of muscle strength. These activities include weight-lifting and push-ups. These activities help tire out the muscle, helping to make you feel more ready for bed. They are also useful for reducing stress. Your heart rate will not be as high as it would for other activities, making it easier to wind down afterwards.