Did you know that nearly 50% of Americans suffer from poor/insufficient sleep?
That’s a whole lot of people.
If everyone followed a consistent routine and got to bed at the right time, it would be a great step in the right direction with regards to sleep health and hygiene. But, what else can you do?
Studies have shown that moderate physical activity (150 minutes or more per week) can greatly improve quality of sleep and overall energy throughout the day. 150 minutes a week — that’s just 21 minutes a day! This is because our bodies have two rhythms — a circadian rhythm (where our energy levels go up and down throughout the day) and a homeostatic rhythm (the pressure your body needs in order to fall asleep). If you’re burning enough energy during the day, the need to sleep is there and the two rhythms work in sync with each other. When your body’s rhythms are not working together, this can cause sleep issues.
Like anything, this takes time — you need to get habituated to a new sleep schedule AND an exercise schedule. It is possible for it to take as much as 4 months before seeing big improvements in sleep. However, think of the other benefits to an exercise routine:
– Overall mood: feeling happier and more ccomplished
– Feeling less stressed
– Improved digestion (when you move, everything moves)
– Beach ready! (Who doesn’t want that, amirite?)
The best exercise for sleep is something aerobic. Getting your heart pumping a bit is a great thing — physiologically, your blood vessels expand and allow the most amount of oxygen and blood flow to your muscles and organs. Although there are great benefits to anaerobic exercise (weight lifting or strength training), it may not be the best for sleep health. Examples of aerobic exercise are jogging, biking, hiking, swimming, dancing, and more. Check with your doctor first before pursuing an exercise routine if you have other medical problems.
Make sure that your workouts are not happening too close to bedtime either — like with children, it may give you an extra wind and will make it harder to fall asleep.
My recommendation would be to keep your brain guessing and your body challenged — I find that a mix of strength training, HIIT, running, and recreational sports really help to keep my body in rhythm and keeps my brain working as well. I find that exercising in the morning sets me up for the day. I am ready to go, feeling accomplished, and ready to take on what challenges may come my way that day.
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