Can’t fall asleep? Go to the gym. For how many times have you heard such advice? And what’s more, have you ever tried to follow it? To give you a quick teaser, exercise affects sleep. What kind of effect it has, how it influences mental health and how to pick the best exercises before sleep – let’s take a look at what research says.
How workouts affect sleep
Though the connection between exercise and sleep quality is still unclear, exercise has long been considered one of the magic pills to improve sleep. There are several reasons why:
- Body-heating. The body temperature increases during exercises and drops at the end. This change may promote the desire to fall asleep faster.
- Most people experience a drop in cortisol level within an hour or so after they workout. As a result, our body is relaxed and we become calm and sound.
- Body clock. Circadian rhythms, or the body clock, is responsible for setting the timing of our daily activities. It was revealed workouts may shift the timing of exercises for insomnia reduction is not that bizarre now.
A 2013 study by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine revealed people who exercise, sleep better. The most important finding was that the effect comes gradually, not all at once. Don’t expect that one-time workout in the evening will cure you or improve the sleep. Exercise needs to become your habit and you’ll see the result after 16 weeks.
Good sleep equals mental health
To have a better picture of what is going on in our body, we need to keep in mind that everything is complex. Eating healthy food is good but if you work till night for months, you’ll still feel exhausted. The sleep and exercise connection isn’t a one-way thing. In other words, if the exercise improves your sleep, it also influences other parts of your body and brain. So, quality sleep, mental health and exercises are tightly connected. The better workouts you have, the better sleep you’ll get and the better your mind works.
What exercises are the best
Sleep is a barometer of health. By now, you probably realize sleep and exercise are tightly connected. Quality sleep helps you perform well at work, learn new skills and keep concentrated, influences your mental health, energy level and weight. To boost your sleep by exercises, here’re some workouts that suit best:
- Although we used to think yoga should be done only at mornings, it’s true you have much better sleep after exercise yoga. It may be very helpful to reduce stress level by breathing exercises.
- Activities that make your heart beat faster are good if you have insomnia. Your body warms up and after training it cools down.
- You can replace dinner with pilates. This workout not only calms you down and breath right, but helpful if you want to lose weight. This is one more evidence that sleep, exercise and diet go together.
To put it in a nutshell, exercise is a good idea. But this is not the magic pill. Suffering from apnea and exercise every day will probably not be the best option. Look at the situation comprehensively. Sport activates your body, switches your brain into another mode and helps you feel better. There’s no right answer whether sleep after exercise good or bad or vice versa. Listen to your body rhythms and feelings.