Most of us know that regular exercise can offer a plethora of health benefits, such as boosting immune system function, building and maintaining muscle mass & bone density, and preventing disease. But did you know that these benefits also include aiding sleep?

Many studies have been done, and articles written, which affirm that exercise can positively impact the quality of your sleep. Here is a roundup of 5 of the top benefits of exercise for improved sleep.

Relieves Stress and Anxiety

Have you ever lay awake, staring at the ceiling worrying and stressing about all sorts of things? Stress and anxiety are two of the biggest hindrances when it comes to sleep.

When you exercise, there is a reduction in adrenaline and cortisol, the body’s stress hormones. At the same time, chemicals called endorphins are released in your body which act as natural painkillers and mood enhancers. Because of their ability to reduce the perception of pain and boost mood, endorphins could be considered the body’s inbuilt stress and anxiety relievers.

Can Reduce Daytime Sleepiness & Fatigue

According to an article on PMC, regular exercise that is primarily aerobic (cardio) can lead to decreased daytime sleepiness, and increase the efficiency of sleep.

In addition, exercise can help increase energy while reducing feelings of fatigue, allowing you to be more active and alert during the daytime.

Alleviates Insomnia and Sleep Apnea

Exercise can help you fall asleep by relieving insomnia and sleep apnea. Some studies have shown that participating in regular aerobic (cardio) exercise can help alleviate the symptoms of insomnia and sleep apnea, both of which are conditions that disturb regular sleep patterns.

Helps Regulate the Sleep/Wake Cycle

Some studies have shown that if you participate in daily exercise, at the same time each day, it can help retrain or adjust the body’s circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle). This means that regular, scheduled exercise can help adjust your body’s internal clock and positively benefit sleep patterns.

Exercising in the great outdoors can also have a positive impact on the sleep/wake cycle. A 2014 study done on the effect of exercise and light exposure on sleep quality concluded that sunlight exposure, and exercise with sunlight exposure, may have a positive impact on sleep-related hormonal responses, sleep habits, and quality of sleep.1

Improves Quality & Duration of Sleep

If you’ve ever done an intense workout, you know that it can tire both your body and mind. This may help you avoid restlessness and fall asleep quicker when the time comes for bedtime. Regular exercise can also improve the quality of sleep.

In a 2012 study done on the effects of exercise on the subjective sleep quality in postmenopausal women, it was found that exercise training induced significant improvement in subjective sleep quality, with even low levels of exercise decreasing the chance of disturbed sleep.2 Additional studies done have backed up this finding.

How Much Exercise is Enough?

An image of women exercising at the gym

The most common exercise recommendation for adults is at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intense exercise. Whether done in the same workout or on different days, exercise should include both aerobic and anaerobic activity.

Get Moving

Regular exercise has the potential to relieve insomnia, sleep apnea, stress, and anxiety. It can also help regulate the sleep/wake cycle, and improve the quality and duration of sleep.

In addition to its many other health benefits, consistent regular exercise can indeed help lead to a better night sleep. Find the types of exercise that are right for you and get moving!

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4241899/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22798253
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