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Sleep & Exercise: 7 Things You Need To Know

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Exercise is excellent for your health, reducing stress, improving mood, and boosting energy. But like most people, you probably don’t get enough sleep. Research shows that about 40 – 70% of American adults report having one or more sleep disorder symptoms, such as insomnia or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

When combined with a lack of restorative sleep time, exercise can affect both short-term health and long-term body composition (how much fat vs. muscle we have). Let’s dive deeper into some common questions about how exercise impacts sleep:

So, Does Exercise Help You Sleep Better?

Regular exercise can help you sleep better. This is true in a couple of ways. First, exercise helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm by increasing the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for making us feel sleepy and tired during nighttime hours.

Second, regular physical exercise and activity can improve sleep quality by helping you fall asleep more quickly, stay asleep longer (sometimes as much as two hours), and wake up feeling more refreshed than before your workout began.

Finally, vigorous exercise can reduce stress and anxiety. When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, getting a good night’s sleep is more challenging. And when you don’t get enough sleep, your body becomes even more sensitive to environmental stressors—creating a vicious cycle that can be tough to break.

So if you’re looking for a way to improve your sleep quality, consider adding exercise, of all physical activity levels, to your daily routine. It’s worth noting that while practice can make it easier to fall asleep, it doesn’t help you get more hours of sleep. So if you have trouble sleeping at night and have never exercised before, start working out during the day (when your body isn’t tired).

How Long Should You Wait Between Exercise and Sleep?

While it is difficult to give a specific amount of time you should wait after exercise, of any physical activity level, you must allow your body enough time to recover. If you wait too long, you may be too tired to sleep. If you wait too short, your body may not have time to recover and repair itself.

Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise in the evening and avoid intense workouts within two hours before bed. Moderate activities such as aerobic exercises, walking or yoga are better than high-intensity workouts that require a lot of energy. Try to do the same type of exercise daily; this will help your body get into a routine and build endurance.

If you cannot exercise, try to get at least 15 minutes of moderate activity. For example, if you have back pain, stretching or yoga might be a good option. If you have insomnia or anxiety, walking outside in fresh air can help relieve stress and promote relaxation assisting in your sleep patterns.

Does exercise help you sleep better? Experts say yes.

Which Is the Best Exercise for Sleep?

For the best workout, you should select an exercise that will get your heart rate up for a sustained period. You can do this with aerobic exercises like running or cycling, resistance training such as push-ups or sit-ups, yoga, and other physical activities that challenge your muscles to work harder.

While light physical activity may benefit sleep and sleep patterns, high-intensity workouts may interfere with quality sleep. If you have trouble falling asleep after exercising, try doing so in the morning before noon instead of after 6 pm, when melatonin levels are highest. Therefore, it is harder to fall asleep at night.

To determine if exercise is helping you sleep better, try keeping track of how many hours per day you sleep and how well rested you feel upon waking up each morning (measured by how refreshed you feel). After one week, compare these numbers against another week where you were sedentary all day long so that you could identify any changes due solely to the effects of exercising on sleep quality efficiently.

How Many Hours Should You Sleep After You Workout?

Over the years, you’ve likely heard countless people claim that they need eight hours of sleep per night without sleep disturbances to get a good deep sleep. The thing is, there’s no concrete evidence to support this claim.

Experts agree that 7.5 to 8 hours is ideal for healthy adults in their prime (ages 26-64). That said, it’s important to note that many factors are at play when determining your optimal sleep duration, including age and gender and lifestyle choices like exercise and diet.

For example: If you’re young or elderly and engage in physical activity most days of the week but don’t work out on weekends, your body might require more or less than seven hours’ sleep each night to function optimally.

And remember: While attempting to reach an unachievable quota may lead some people down an unhealthy path (i.e., sleeping pills), getting adequate restful sleep should be a goal for everyone —not just athletes.

In addition to promoting good health and performance, getting enough sleep is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight and preventing other chronic conditions like diabetes and depression. So if you’re not sleeping well, consider talking to your doctor about improving your sleep quality.

Group of women preparing to exercise in order to get great sleep

Does Sleeping After Exercise Affect Your Weight?

Some experts caution that your metabolism slows if you stop moving around after a workout with moderate exercise. If this is the case, sleeping immediately after a workout may cause you to gain weight.

Others say that sleeping after exercise helps your body recover, so it’s a good idea to get in bed immediately after working out with high-intensity exercises. This is especially true if you cannot do any other form of exercise during the day due to time constraints.

If it is the only time you have to exercise and work on your weight loss goals, it is better to get some exercise than none. However, if you have time to do other types of physical activity during the day, it’s probably better for your health and weight loss goals.

Does Overtraining Affect My Amount of Sleep?

Overtraining can affect your sleep. When you overtrain, your body doesn’t have enough time to repair itself between rigorous workouts. This is known as “overtraining” or “overreaching,”—and it can disrupt your sleep cycle in several ways no matter the time of day.

First, if you’ve been pushing yourself too hard at the gym and then hit the pillow, you may wake up earlier than usual.

Secondly: You might find yourself tossing and turning throughout the night (or even waking up in a panic) causing poor sleep quality and disturbed sleep.

Thirdly: You may notice that it takes longer to fall asleep than usual which could cause poor sleep quality. This is because overtraining makes your brain more active during REM sleep. While you’re trying desperately to get some shuteye, all those extra thoughts will keep popping into your mind instead of helping calm down so that slumber can set in!

What Should I Prioritize: Sleep or Exercise?

While it’s true that a workout can help you sleep better, it’s important to remember that the opposite is also true: if you don’t get enough sleep, your workouts are going to suffer (and so will your mood and mental health). You might think it’s an easy choice between getting extra sleep or exercising more, but the truth is that both are crucial for success.

The best way to make sure you’re getting enough rest? Make sure you go to bed reasonably and wake up at the same time every day—no matter what type of day you’ve had. If possible, aim for 8 hours of shuteye each night—that will help ensure that your body has enough time between workouts and good nights’ sleep.

If this feels impossible due to work or other responsibilities, try setting aside 15 minutes each weeknight before bedtime for something relaxing like reading or meditating instead of watching TV after dinner; this will give your brain some downtime before getting into dreamland!

Conclusion

Whether you’re a professional athlete or want to improve your overall health, understanding how your body processes sleep and exercise will help you optimize both.

For example, did you know that sleep deprivation may impact how your muscles react to exercise? If you don’t get enough sleep, it can take longer for your muscles to recover after a workout because they aren’t able to rebuild themselves as quickly.

What’s more, when you’re tired, your body tends to crave unhealthy foods with lots of sugar and salt—which can actively impact our performance during exercise and increase your risk of injury. So if you want to optimize your athletic performance and improve overall health, ensure you’re getting enough sleep. Shop at any of our local mattress stores for more tips on how to get a good night’s sleep.

SOURCES:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5300306/

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