Exercise and Sleep

Written by Chinmay Shankar

Last Updated June 13, 2024

kaneesha allen Fact checked by Kaneesha Allen

We all know how important a good night's sleep is for our health and well-being. But sometimes it can be hard to get the recommended seven to eight hours of shut-eye. And if you're struggling to catch some zzz's even with the best mattress, working out can help.

We know that exercise has many benefits for our physical and mental health, but can it also help us sleep better? Let's take a look at the research to find out.

exercise and sleep - physical activity for a better sleep

Exercising can be benficial

Exercise and sleep are closely linked. In fact, exercise is one of the best things you can do to promote healthy sleep habits. Exercise helps by - 

- Reducing stress levels: Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting and stress-reducing effects. A good workout session can reduce the levels of stress hormones like cortisol in your body. Lesser stress levels mean you will fall asleep easily.

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- Regulating sleep cycles: Exercise can help regulate your body's natural sleep-wake cycle. This is because physical activity releases melatonin, a hormone that takes care of our internal body clock.

- Improving sleep quality: Exercise improves the quality of sleep.  A proper fitness regime can reduce the time it takes you to fall asleep and increase REM sleep duration. Yes, the same deep sleep that makes you feel well-rested. You gain it from losing some calories at your nearest gym or park.

So, if you're looking for a natural way to improve your sleep, start incorporating exercise into your daily routine. And make sure that you don't do any strenuous activity too close to bedtime. You do that too close to bedtime and too much, and all this effort can have the opposite effect. In short, don't make it harder by pushing yourself too far.

What kind of exercise is best for sleep?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. The best exercise for sleep will vary from person to person. But there are certain types of exercise that tend to be more beneficial for sleep than others.

For example, aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, and swimming can help improve sleep quality and quantity. These activities raise your body temperature, and as your body cools back down, the calming effect is enough for a good night's sleep.

Aerobic exercise like skipping can help you sleep better at night

Besides these, strength-training exercises can also be helpful for sleep. Strength training helps build muscle and improve fitness levels. At the same time, it can also help to reduce stress levels and promote better sleep.

Strength training exercise can help you sleep better

Finally, mind-body exercises like yoga and Tai Chi can be helpful for sleep as well. These activities help to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety and depression, both of which can lead to the mind being at ease and thus better sleep.

Yoga can help you sleep better at night

How long before sleep should you exercise?

The best time to exercise for sleep is usually in the late afternoon or early evening. This is because exercise raises the body temperature, and it takes several hours for that temperature to drop again. Avoid vigorous activity within two hours of bedtime. If you must exercise close to bedtime, try a gentler activity like yoga or stretching.

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Of course, the benefits of exercise aren't just limited to sleep. Regular physical activity can also help improve your health and well-being in many ways. So, even if you can't always exercise right before bed, try to make it a regular part of your daily routine. Consistent exercise can help improve sleep and rest.

Is it better to exercise in the morning or at night?

There is no definitive answer to this question. It depends on many factors, including your natural body clock, your sleep habits, and your daily schedule.

Some people find that working out in the morning helps them sleep better at night, while others prefer evening exercise. Ultimately, it's up to you to experiment and see what works best for you.

How long should you work out each day?

There is no magic number when it comes to how long you should exercise each day. However, the general recommendation is to aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most days of the week. This can be broken up into shorter sessions throughout the day if needed.

If you're just starting out, beginning with smaller goals should help. And then you can gradually work your way up to the recommended amount.

As always, listen to your body and don't overdo it.

Can too much exercise affect sleep?

Yes, too much exercise can affect sleep.

If you engage in strenuous exercise too close to bedtime, your body temperature will rise, and it will be more difficult to nod off. It can also disrupt your natural sleep-wake cycle by delaying the release of melatonin.

So, if you want to get a good night's sleep, it's important to moderate your exercise routine. Exercise is beneficial for sleep, but only when it's done in moderation.

Why can't I sleep even though I'm tired?

There are many factors that can contribute to sleeplessness, but one of the most common is stress. When we're stressed, our bodies release cortisol, which is a hormone that makes us feel alert and can prevent us from falling asleep.

If you're finding it hard to sleep even though you're tired, it's important to relax before bedtime and create a calm environment in your bedroom.

This will help signal your body and your mind that it's time to rest.

How can I make sure that I'm getting enough exercise?

There are a few things you can do to make sure that you're getting enough exercise. First, try to set aside some time each day for physical activity. Even if it's just a short walk around the block, getting your body moving will help improve your sleep.

Another good way to get exercise is by joining a gym or fitness class. This way, you'll be more likely to stick with it and get the exercise you need. Finally, be mindful and take a rest whenever you need to.

Does working out twice a day help?

It could, or it couldn’t. There is no definite answer to this question.

If you're looking to improve your sleep, it's important to focus on quality over quantity when it comes to exercise. Instead of working out twice a day, try to find one time that works for you and stick with it. This way, you'll be more likely to stick with your workout routine and see the results you're looking for.

Talk to your doctor if working out twice a day is right for you. With a little trial and error, you should be able to find a workout routine that helps you get the restful sleep you need.

How can I increase my deep sleep time?

Your deep sleep can be affected by something as simple as drinking caffeine too late in the day, or it could be a more serious issue like sleep apnea. There are many factors that can contribute to a lack of deep sleep, including stress, anxiety, medications, and underlying medical conditions. But one of the most common culprits could be simply not getting enough physical activity during the day.

There are a few things you can do to increase your deep sleep time. First, try to stick to a regular sleep schedule. This means going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends. Second, create a relaxing bedtime routine that will help you wind down before sleep. This could include reading or taking a bath. Finally, make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool—this will help your body relax and fall asleep more easily.

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In the end, exercise might help you sleep better if done consistently and at the appropriate time of day. The ideal exercises for sleep are generally low-impact and soothing, such as yoga or swimming. It's also preferable to perform them a few hours before bedtime so your body has time to relax.

So if you're searching for a simple approach to improving your quality of sleep, add some exercise to your daily routine. It just might assist you in catching up on those much-needed ZZZs!

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Disclaimer: What is said in this article has been referenced from multiple sources and is intended only for educational and informational purposes. Please note that no content in this article is a substitute for professional advice from a qualified doctor or healthcare provider. Always consult an experienced doctor with any concerns you may have regarding a health condition or treatment, and never disregard any medical suggestions or delay in seeking treatment because of something you read here.