Exercise can indeed affect your sleep! How and when you exercise may all have an impact on your sleep quality.
Can Exercise Improve Sleep?
Yes, exercise can improve the quality of your sleep. In fact, many experts point to this basic lifestyle adjustment as being key to sleep improvement. However, sources point out that how and when you exercise makes a difference in how positively and how much your exercise will affect your sleep.
Generally speaking, exercise in the mid to late afternoon is ideal. For one thing, it gets you past the sleepy time in the afternoon when taking a nap (if possible) can result in you not feeling sleepy at bedtime. Late afternoon exercise gets your body to heat up and your circulation going, and as your body temperature cools, it seems to get the body ready for sleep.
If you eat dinner early, exercising after dinner may work for you – but giving your body at least four hours of cool down time is said to be best.
A vigorous workout in the evening shortly before bed means you are trying to sleep with a raised body temperature, and studies have shown that a cooling body temperature is most conducive to sleep. However, this is up to the individual.
Every body reacts differently to working out. Some people simply have a hard time winding down after an evening workout. That’s especially true if you were doing something super stimulating. If late night sweats hype you up, do not do them.
If morning is the only time you have to exercise, of course that is better than no exercise at all. Because exercise is good for the body overall, all body systems from circulation to muscle tone are improved, and keeping your body in top shape ultimately promotes healthy sleep.
Exercise also helps relieve tension and stress. Many studies have pointed out the relaxing benefits of exercise and the subsequent benefits of better sleep.
What Kind of Exercise Is Best?
Most experts agree that cardiovascular exercise is best for better sleep. A vigorous cardio workout that lasts at least 20 minutes is sufficient to raise body temperature, get your heart pumping, and enhance circulation. Examples of cardiovascular exercises you can do at home or nearby include:
* Walking (vigorous, fast walking)
* Jumping rope
* Bike riding
The key is to make the exercise continual and vigorous.
Yoga and other meditative, stretching exercises may be helpful especially if stress is stopping you from being able to sleep well. In fact, some experts say that stretching periodically throughout the day may be of benefit too.