Sleep and Exercise Connections You May Not Know About

By Laurie Fanelli in Healthy Feeling

With increasingly busy lifestyles, many people are beginning to feel more tired and worn-down on a regular basis.

A restless mind can keep you awake at night, which leads to tiresome days and little energy to fit in a workout. A mixture of sleep and exercise, however, might be exactly what’s needed to remedy this issue. Most everyone has seen the recommended numbers (an average of eight hours of sleep each night and 30-minutes of working out each day), yet many ignore the advice of experts.

Exercise is a high-intensity activity while sleep is a restful respite from a busy day. Despite these differences, sleep and exercise actually play off of each other. The National Sleep Foundation points to a study that found people sleep significantly better if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. Not only can regular exercise help you get a restful night of sleep, it also encourages you to feel more awake during the day.Sleep and exercise are two important elements of daily health

Increased Awareness Throughout the Day

“Our findings demonstrate a link between regular physical activity and perceptions of sleepiness during the day, which suggests that participation in physical activity on a regular basis may positively influence an individual’s productivity at work, or in the case of a student, influence their ability to pay attention in class,” according to Paul Loprinzi of Bellarmine University, the lead author of the above mentioned study.

If one is feeling more productive, attentive, and effective in daily life, that also eliminates many of the worries that can cloud your mind—especially at bedtime.

Reduce Napping Cramping

Chicago Tribune article notes that dehydration, prolonged sitting, and neglected stretching can all lead to nighttime leg cramps, which can be a painful interruption to your REM cycle. Exercise counterbalances almost all of these negatives by encouraging movement and hydration. If cramping keeps you up at night, stretching before bed (with a side of light exercise) may be more beneficial than a glass of warm milk and a bedtime story.


Prevent Insomnia

The National Sleep Foundation also notes that exercise is a natural treatment for insomnia. After engaging in a regular workout routine for several weeks, people are proven to fall asleep more quickly, sleep longer, and have a better quality of sleep. A good workout can tire you out for a good night’s sleep, and regular exercise is also known to clear your mind and alleviate stressful thoughts that may make it difficult to fall asleep.

When to Workout

As noted, a busy schedule can sometimes make working out feel impossible. Thankfully, different exercises can be completed no matter what time of day you find yourself “free” during. The morning is an ideal time to get in some cardio, especially if you like to run or bike outdoors without the sun beating down on you. A sunrise-cardio routine will help you feel more awake first thing in the morning and give you increased energy to attack your busy day. Getting up just 20 minutes earlier can help you squeeze in time for a short run.

The evenings can also be a good time to schedule in fitness, especially if you enjoy yoga or Pilates. These types of workouts build strength while stretching muscles and incorporating deep, cleansing breathing, all of which can encourage a peaceful night of dreaming. You can even get some moves in while you watch your favorite shows at night or after you put your kids to bed.

It’s time to stop using “being tired” as an excuse for skipping a workout. A trip to the gym will not only wake you up at the moment, but it will lay the groundwork for a solid eight hours of rest as well.

So how do you use exercise to help sleep? How do you sneak in a workout? Tweet us your answers!

Image sources: Pexels | Wikimedia Commons | Pixabay

This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.

Why It’s Good

Studies have shown that incorporating exercise into your daily routine can help you get a good night sleep while also making you more alert throughout the day. This one's a win-win when you factor in all the additional health benefits generated through a regular workout routine, too.