Extensive research has shown the benefits of exercising and how it can help improve sleep quality. Through regular exercise, the time it takes to fall asleep is quickened and helps to reduce the time spent awake at night. Best of all, even just a short amount of moderate exercise, 30 minutes, can cause immediate improvements in sleep quality that same night.
Aerobic Exercise for Sleep
While most research focuses on the benefits of moderate aerobic exercise, other types of exercise like strength training, yoga, and more intense forms of exercise also help with sleep.
Aerobic exercise or sometimes “cardio” can help improve blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. It’s often measured in intensity levels, with an informal measurement called the Talk Test. Moderate aerobic exercise can be executed while still being able to speak, while, vigorous aerobic exercise is at a level that only a few words can be spoken before catching their breath.
Regularly working out with moderate aerobic exercise has shown improvements in sleep quality for those that suffer from insomnia. Additionally, studies show that regular exercise through cardio helps alleviate the severity of symptoms for those with sleep-disordered breathing conditions like sleep apnea.
Other Forms of Exercise
Strength Training, or resistance exercise, is also a great way to improve sleep. These types of exercises include activities like push-ups, sit-ups, weightlifting, and resistance bands to help build muscles. Studies show that strength training not only helps with improving sleep, but also work to help reduce depression and anxiety, which often accompany conditions like insomnia.
Similarly, yoga has been found to be beneficial to sleep. Because yoga exercises focus on posture, breathing, meditation, and mindfulness, these work to alleviate stress during the day and help to create better sleep at night.
Listen to Your Body
Most researchers agree that exercising too close to the time you sleep can make it more difficult to rest. Because aerobic exercise releases endorphins, these chemicals work to signal to your brain that it’s time to stay awake. Additionally, exercise increases your body temperature signaling to your body to wake up, like a hot shower in the morning. Because of these aspects, it’s recommended to stop working out at least 1 to 2 hours before going to sleep.
However, more modern research has shown that this is not always the case. Everyone is unique, and only you can measure what works best for you. Try working out in the morning, afternoon, and early evening to see what works best for your schedule as well as what gives you the most beneficial improvement to your sleep quality.