The Impact Of Regular Exercise On Your Sleep Health

The Impact of Regular Exercise on Your Sleep HealthIf you’ve had problems falling asleep, even after working throughout the day, all you need is a bit of physical exercise in your daily routine. With 10 minutes of aerobic exercise added to your routine you can have a peaceful night’s sleep. Additionally, if you exercise daily, you don’t run the risk of developing any sleep disorders, or turning insomniac.

The Exercise And Sleep Relationship

When you spend time doing physical activities, it helps to boost your sleep duration and quality. You tend to reduce stress, improve blood circulation, and also it helps in improving your overall health. Generally, with early morning and afternoon exercises, you can also reset the sleep/awake cycle. If you can exercise outside, and be exposed to sunlight and fresh air, it would be better for your overall health.

According to a study conducted by Withings, in general, when you exercise regularly, these are the results you can expect;

  • Earlier bedtime: People who exercised daily, were more tired and went to sleep approximately half an hour before the ones who did not.
  • Increased sleep duration: When you exercise daily, you tend to be more tired and sleep for more hours, compared to when you don’t.
  • Deep sleep: With tiredness, the sleep cycles become deeper, making you feel rested and more productive when you wake up.
  • Fewer wakeups during the night: If you are tired, you’d be less prone to wake up in the middle of the night, unless there’s an emergency, or you have a nightmare.

When To Exercise?

Exercising, even if it is for your physical and psychological benefit, should not make you uncomfortable. So, if you are not a morning person, the 8 a.m. gym membership might not work for you, and there is no reason to fret. In fact, you’re in luck, because afternoon workout has its own set of assets and impacts. Since, your body is a bit warmer (perhaps one or two degrees more) in the afternoon, than in the morning when you wake up, your muscles would be more flexible.

Additionally, when you exercise in the afternoons, you generally have interruption free sleep at nights. This is because, the aerobic workouts in the afternoon raises your body temperature by 4–5 degrees. However, after some time (towards bedtime), the temperature falls down, signifying to your body that it is time to sleep. This might not be the case with morning exercises, because they generally make you tired, but you have to continue with your day before you can sleep.

When To Avoid Exercising?

Now that you know about the time to exercise for optimal sleep, you should also know about the times you should avoid exercising. Avoid any strenuous exercise in the evenings, or right before bed. Let’s say your bedtime is 9 p.m. as an example. Any exercise you need to do during the evening, should be wrapped up at most around 7 p.m.

The increase in your body’s temperature when you try out cardio or other tiring exercises makes it tougher for you to sleep. If you prefer to stretch your muscles before you want to retire to your bed try out yoga, or just stretching, which can unwind your muscle, helping you to relax easily.

Sleep Cycles – What Happens In Your Brain When You Are Sleeping?

When you’re sleeping, your body might be tired and still, but your brain remains awake. During sleep, your brain actually transfers between two phases, the rapid eye movement phase (REM) and the non–rapid eye movement phase (NREM). It is during the rapid eye movement phase you tend to have dreams, and depending on your state of mind, nightmares.

On the other hand, the non-rapid eye movement phase helps your body to build bones and muscles, increase your immunity power, and mend tissues on any body parts. This is the deep sleep phase and works like the medicine induced sleep.

Generally, your brain repeats five cycles unless you wake up mid sleep. The first four cycles are in the non-rapid eye movement phase, while the last one is in the rapid eye movement phase.

Phase 1

This is the first phase where you will have the lightest sleep. If you do awake during this phase, you will have a falling sensation, or might have a sudden muscle jerk. This phenomenon is also known as ‘hypnic jerks’.

Phase 2

During this phase, you delve into deeper sleep. Your metabolisms like your heart rate slow down. Your muscles relax and your body temperature gradually decreases as your body prepares to go into a deeper phase of sleep.

Phase 3 And Phase 4

During these two phases, your mind relaxes, and your brainwaves slow down. It is during this phase your brain becomes silent, and you might find it tough to wake up even if you are forced to. If you do wake up, you’d find it tough to take in the outside world for a minute or two, while your brain focuses and comes back to its active stage.

The Rapid Eye Movement Phase

In this phase, after you have passed the four phases of non–rapid eye movement, your body becomes somewhat active. For example, your heart rate speeds up to normal. Your breathing and eye movements also start, and your brain becomes active again. At this time, your brain processes the facts and details you’ve gone through during the day, and helps in the formation of memories and feelings (be it good or bad). These feelings or emotions releases hormones like serotonin in your body.

How To Boost Your Circadian Cycles

You might be confused as to what ‘circadian’ means. Generally, your body functions on different seasonal, monthly, and daily cycles. The daily cycle of the body is known as the circadian cycle.  A human body can go through different circadian cycles, like body temperature, alertness, blood pressure, and even melatonin secretion among other enzymes and hormones.

However, of all the circadian cycles, the sleep cycle is an essential one because it is one of the primary reasons for our wellbeing. The sleep/awake cycle approximately lasts for 24 hours normally. However, it varies from person to person, and depends on your lifestyle.

In case you maintain a normal lifestyle, and are suffering from sleeping issues, follow the tips given below.

Regular Rhythm

If you’re trying to achieve a great circadian sleeping cycle, you need to maintain a proper cycle for your body. In short, you need to have a fixed schedule, which your body can follow without getting confused. Even if you’re not taking your meals during a specified time, you need to have a proper time for sleeping. That way, your body will not be confused, and your sleep cycle will be maintained properly.

While you’re at it, make sure that your daily schedule is robust enough, and won’t make you sick. This is because if you fall sick, while trying to maintain your sleeping cycle, your other body cycles (like blood pressure cycle, body’s temperature, and hormone/enzyme secretion) might be hampered, leading to a bigger health issue.

Try to have a robust schedule during the day. This means, you can either have a packed schedule, during which you work in your office (and do some physical exercise), and avoid napping during the day. That way,  in the evening, when it is actually time to sleep, your body will know it is time to rest, and crave that.

Synchronize Your Body’s Clock

Now, what does it mean by “body’s clock’? It means, your body’s internal clock, which your body is habituated with. Ever had a situation where you didn’t set your alarm, yet woke up? Well, that is your body’s internal clock functioning and telling you to wake up. So, when you are planning to have an extra hour of sleep, make sure you synchronize your body’s internal clock with that.

Also take care of other environmental cues, which might make it tough for you to sleep. For example, the light in your room, or any noise in your vicinity. The best way is to limit exposure to bright light before bedtime to avoid being an insomniac.

Avoid Natural Disrupters

While trying to sleep while reading a book is a great way to keep your mind free, make sure you choose only materials for light reading. Any romance novel or books on life saving tips might not work as a sleep inducer because you might become interested in finishing the novel. However, you know yourself best, and hence, should choose wisely.  

Additionally, avoid using cell phones during your bedtime as they emit a blue light, which indicates to your body that it’s still daytime. Moreover, your meal plans play an important role. Generally, avoiding spicy meal and any type of caffeine before bedtime. Also avoid exercising just before bed because this makes your body active, which is the exact opposite of relaxing.

The Bottom Line

So, now that you know about the impact of regular exercise on your sleep health, it is time to include it in your regular life. However, in addition to exercising, you should also check your lifestyle if you are having issues sleeping. Sometimes, early to bed and early to rise makes you healthy, wealthy, and wise. And at other times, working out regularly does. The choice is yours, so choose wisely, and should you have any issues with sleep, feel free to drop in a comment below!