Exercise and sleep

I think we’re all agreed that to live a longer life with a healthy mind and body most of all we need to eat better – cutting out junk food, doing more exercise every week and getting some quality sleep hours in!

So if you want to sleep better it’s all about exercise. There is good evidence that exercise directly improves sleep. We use energy during exercise and our body recovers with increased pressure for sleep – food doesn’t produce the same effect. Everyone’s body temperature naturally goes up slightly in the daytime and back down at night, reaching its low just before dawn. Decreasing body temperature seems to be a trigger, signalling the body that it’s time to sleep. Vigorous exercise temporarily raises the body temperature as much as two degrees, after which it drops lower than if you hadn’t exercised. This lower body temperature is what helps you sleep better.

So if you exercise five to six hours before going to bed, you will be attempting to sleep at the same time your temperature is beginning to go down. doing exercise in the afternoon or early evening raises your body temperature, which then declines rapidly four or five hours later, aiding the natural drifting-off process.

Many people when asked claim that they don’t exercise on a regular basis because they are too tired. That could that have something to do with sleep habits. Research shows benefits of regular exercise – improves heart health and blood pressure, builds bone and muscle, helps combat stress and muscle tension, and can even improve mood. And one more benefit: sound sleep. Did you know that exercise can help you sleep sounder and longer and feel more awake during the day? The key is found in the type of exercise you choose and the time you participate in it during the day.

Exercising vigorously right before bed or within about three hours of your bedtime can actually make it harder to fall asleep. This surprises many people; it’s often thought that a good workout before bed helps you feel more tired. In actuality, vigorous exercise right before bed stimulates your heart, brain and muscles — the opposite of what you want at bedtime. It also raises your body temperature right before bed, which, you’ll soon discover, is not what you want.

Morning exercise can relieve stress and improve mood. These effects can indirectly improve sleep, no doubt. To get a more direct sleep-promoting benefit from morning exercise, however, you can couple it with exposure to outdoor light. Being exposed to natural light in the morning, whether you’re exercising or not, can improve your sleep at night by reinforcing your body’s sleep-wake cycle.

When it comes to having a direct effect on getting a good night’s sleep, it’s vigorous exercise in the late afternoon or early evening that appears most beneficial. That’s because it raises your body temperature above normal a few hours before bed, allowing it to start falling just as you’re getting ready for bed. This decrease in body temperature appears to be a trigger that helps ease you into sleep.

Remember regular exercise can help you look, feel and sleep better.