01 Jun EXERCISE AND SLEEP
There are various factors that can affect the quality of our sleep, some of which we have already examined. Another important part of our everyday life which affects but also gets affected by our sleep quality, is physical exercise.
It is well known how important physical exercise is for our health and wellness. Regular exercise seems to contribute to a long life, but also to reduce risk of chronic illness. Additionally, it can help us relax, sleep better and feel more cheerful, increasing the overall quality of our life.
What is not as well known, though, is how much even small changes in our everyday routine concerning physical activities can improve the quality of sleep we are getting every night. And vice versa, our sleep quality can easily affect our mood and attitude towards physical activities the next day.
There are various studies claiming that regular exercise can benefit a good sleep, but that also good sleep can help us feel more active. On the contrary, bad or insufficient sleep can result in poor physical performance mainly on the very next day.
Some of the benefits of exercise are that it can increase sleep quality in adults reducing the time needed to fall asleep, while exercising during the day can reduce sleepiness and, for some people, the need for sleep medication.
Exercise can also help sleep indirectly. For example, moderate to vigorous exercise, such as aerobics, can reduce risk of weight gain, thus also reducing the risk of sleep apnoea. Aerobic exercise can also benefit lungs and heart, increasing our overall physical health.
While aerobic is great for our heart rate, mobility exercise, like yoga or stretching, and also breathing exercises are more suitable for calming down and relaxing, which makes them the ideal activity before sleep. Although most experts advise not to engage in any intense exercise up to three hours before bed, activities of less intensity can be beneficial even right before sleep.
Additionally, according to many studies, yoga can reduce stress and depression, but can also improve sleep for people who suffer from cancer or arthritis or for those who are on the menopause stage. As a general rule, holistic types of activities that can exercise the body as well as the mind, can provide more benefits.
The ideal time of day to engage in physical activity heavily depends on our schedule and lifestyle. We should make sure, though, not to perform any vigorous exercise up to three hours before bed, as this can increase our heart rate, core temperature and adrenaline levels, while also blocking the production of melatonin.
Melatonin, also known as “sleep hormone” is released from the brain mainly during night hours and is responsible for the sleepiness we feel. This is because melatonin suppresses our nervous system, preparing our body to fall asleep. Therefore, blocking its release can seriously impair our sleep. There are many studies indicating that exercising early in the morning can give our body the time to calm down, making it easier for us to relax when we go to bed.
Combine all of the above and get ready to enjoy a better and more restful sleep, every night!