There are a myriad of reasons why exercise is good for you, from supporting heart health to providing benefits for the immune system. According to the CDC, regularly engaging in physical activity can even give you stronger bones. One of the benefits of exercise may surprise you: a good night’s sleep. If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, making time for a workout may be exactly what your body needs.
What Are the Benefits of Exercise for Sleep?
Working out and staying active during the day can have wonderful benefits for your sleep quality at night. Everyone is different, of course, but many people notice sleep benefits after exercise:
- Falling asleep more quickly
- Feeling more sleepy in the evening
- Sleeping more deeply
- Waking up more rested
Put simply, when you’re active during the day, it can improve the quality of your overall sleep experience. Staying asleep throughout the night can have a restorative effect on the body, potentially helping you feel energized and ready to go the next day.
What Type of Workout Can Help You Sleep Better?
There aren’t any hard and fast rules for exercising and sleep quality. Generally speaking, you can follow the workout you prefer. Choose one that is comfortable for your body and that makes you feel satisfied. Here are a few possibilities:
- Cardio exercises: These workouts focus on getting your heart pumping. Moderate- or high-intensity cardio include a large variety of exercises, such as cycling, aerobics, jogging, swimming and brisk walking.
- Stretches: There’s nothing wrong with choosing the low-impact, relaxation-focused types of physical activity, such as Pilates or stretching.
- Resistance training: For some people, nothing feels as satisfying as a session of weight training. Resistance bands, free weights, push-ups, pull-ups and squats are all types of resistance training.
Getting started isn’t difficult. The key is learning how to get in shape and then sticking with a regular routine that makes you happy.
Why Is Exercising Important for Sleep Quality?
Put simply, scientists aren’t exactly sure why working out helps with sleep. They just know it works, at least for many people. The following are some possibilities of why exercise is helpful for sleeping better at night.
Exercise Can Help With Occasional Stress
If you’re like many people, you find it hard to fall asleep when you’re worried about something. Stress and anxiety can keep you tossing and turning all night long. Hormones connected with stress can keep your body in panic mode, which can lower your overall sleep quality.
Working out can help you get rid of stress naturally. Feel-good hormones called endorphins can help you have feelings of wellbeing. When you’re relaxed, it’s easier to fall asleep.
Working Out Can Make You Tired
A good workout leaves your muscles tired out, but in a positive way. In turn, physical tiredness can get signal your body to sleep deeply. This doesn’t mean completely exhausting yourself, though. Staying active by walking your dog, working in your garden or performing moderate exercise can work wonders.
Spending Time Outdoors Can Reinforce Your Circadian Rhythm
If you exercise during the day, make an effort to do your workout outdoors, or at least near a window. Sunlight can help you “set” your inner clock, or circadian rhythm. When your brain sees bright light and feels the effects of physical activity in the morning, it tends to identify daytime as “awake time.” In turn, when it gets dark at night and your body starts to naturally wind down, your brain can associate the changes with “sleep time.” This way, you automatically start to get sleepy as bedtime approaches.
When Should You Do Your Workout?
Many people notice that daytime workouts help them more. Other people sleep better when they exercise about two or three hours prior to bed. You need to experiment a bit to see which time is best for you. Also, be careful to avoid hurting yourself. Aches and pains can interrupt sleep.