Every health expert will always recommend sleep, exercise, and good nutrition as the building blocks of good health and overall well-being.
But, what many people fail to understand is the interrelationship between the three. Both nutrition and exercise have some effects on your sleep but the latter seems to have more influence on the amount and quality of shut-eye that you get.
Working out is not a magical cure that will solve all your sleep problems or a guarantee that you will always sleep well and for long, but it can be very useful.
Also, if you have insomnia and other common sleep problems you will also need to combine it with other remedies. But, what are some of the benefits of exercise for sleep?
How Exercising Can Improve Your Sleep
#1 Increased Exercise Tires You Out
Any physical activity that you do will always tire you out, and for most people, this alone is enough to make you fall asleep the minute your head lands on the pillow.
By working your muscles and your body, the body will get tired and will naturally want to rest to recover, which means that it will be easy to get some rest.
However, the timing of the exercise also matters because while the workouts might tire you out, there is also an adrenaline rush that comes with physical activity.
It is not recommended to exercise before bed, because the adrenaline levels in the body need a few hours before they fall and therefore can make it impossible to sleep.
#2 Exercise Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are two common reasons why many people are unable to sleep.
After a long day at work or school, there will always be something to stress you at the end of the day. Whether it is an upcoming project or life and relationship issues, the chances are that you will remain awake all night due to the worry.
And besides from this worry, stress also makes you clench the muscles in your neck, back and shoulders which in turn causes a tensed up body and hence making it hard to sleep.
Running with plantar fasciitis and other common foot and body problems is not easy but exercising helps to clear and calm your mind which is vital for sleep.
A few minutes of running or cycling every day can help to get your mind of the things that might be stressing you. Even just taking a simple walk around the park will help clear your mind and the fresh air also does a lot of good to the body.
Exercising might not solve the issues in your life, but they will at least act as a distraction and help you forget them for a few hours so that you can at least get some rest.
#3 Exercising Resets the Body Clock
If the body's internal clock that is in charge of regulating the wake and sleep cycle goes out of sync the chances are that you will find it hard to fall asleep.
There are many factors that can lead to not being able to sleep, with the key ones being the failure to maintain a regular sleep pattern and severe cases of insomnia.
But regular exercising can also help deal with this common problem.
Working out in the morning and late in the afternoon can help to reset the sleep-wake cycle.
And it does this by raising your body's core temperature slightly when working out and allowing it to drop a few hours later which triggers sleepiness.
If you make exercises part of your daily routine the body's internal clock will always be working correctly and this is more so if you exercise outdoors where you are able to absorb some natural sunlight.
#4 Exercise Decreases Daytime Sleepiness
Regardless of your age, gender, or fitness level, there are many research findings out there that suggest that exercise before bed, or at least a few hours before going under the sheets can help to reduce daytime sleepiness.
While there is no direct link between exercise and decrease in daytime sleepiness, most experts believe that the relationship between the two is subordinate. This means that it is an indirect link because of the effects exercises will have on other things like stress, depression, obesity and sleep deprivation.
Also, since you are able to sleep better when you exercise, you will not have an urge to take long naps during the day.
It is important to note that long daytime naps are a common cause of sleep issues and so the fact that exercises will indirectly help to decrease daytime sleepiness is enough to show they are very useful for sleep.
#5 Exercise Improves Sleep Quality
It is almost an indisputable fact that exercises can help to make it easier for you to sleep and also help you remain asleep for long.
But what many people do not seem to know is that physical activity can also help to improve the quality of sleep that you get.
Although research is still not very conclusive on how exercise improves your sleep quality, many experts will agree that its effects on the sleep cycle help to ensure you get better sleep.
When you workout consistently enough, the amount of time you spend on each stage of sleep will change.
In short, this means that you will spend enough time on all the stages of sleep which in turn improves the quality of sleep that you get.
#6 Exercise Can Help Deal with Common Sleep Issues
Common problems like insomnia, sleep apnea, and snoring will lead to low quality sleep.
But, working out can help to deal with them or at least reduce their severity.
Research shows that exercises act as a natural therapy for common problems like insomnia and sleep apnea. For sleep apnea, physical activity helps to strengthen the muscles around the throat to ensure that it remains open when you sleep.
Also, exercise can help you shed some of those extra pounds which for many people are the only remedy they need to deal with their sleep apnea.
So what are the ways exercise benefits sleep?
Lack of sleep or failing to get enough sleep can be very frustrating. Besides from feeling groggy and weak the following day, it can have some adverse health effects in the long run.
But, before you decide to buy those expensive sleeping pills, you should always start by trying some natural remedies such as exercising regularly.
It is hard to find someone that exercises regularly having sleep problems, and if you combine physical activity with other remedies such as taking herbal teas and warm baths before bed, you can almost be guaranteed of having long and high-quality shut-eye.