The Link Between Exercise and Sleep

Exercise has been blamed for both lack of sleep and increased ability to sleep. Each individual responds to exercise differently, and some individuals may have a difficult time falling asleep directly after intense physical activity and others may find they sleep better on days when they have exerted some energy in the form of exercise.  Scientist show that the general, long term effect of exercise is improved sleep. There are several reasons for this.

Reduce Stress

Exercise reduces stress. According to an article from the Mayo Clinic, physical activity causes your body to release neurotransmitters called endorphins. These endorphins improve your mood and help you feel better, reducing your overall stress level. The Mayo Clinic also suggests that exercising can act as a form of meditation. Focusing on a single physical activity can help calm your thoughts and reduce your stress level. Because a high stress level is one factor that hinders people from sleeping, using exercise to reduce the amount of stress you feel can improve sleep.

Improved Quality

Studies show that people who are more active throughout the day can fall asleep faster, producing a more quality amount of sleep over time.  The study discussed was done on children, but they mentioned that other studies have shown similar results in adults. This study said that “every hour of sedentary activity during the day resulted in an additional three minutes in the time it took to fall asleep at night. And the children who fell asleep faster ultimately slept longer, getting an extra hour of sleep for every 10-minute reduction in the time it took them to drift off.”  So, the less time spent sitting still during the day, the more quality sleep kids get.

While, exercising right before sleep may make it difficult for you to fall asleep initially, exercise in general can help you get better quality sleep. Carve out time in your day to be active, even if its a short walk with your dog around the neighborhood or a few minutes spent gardening. Finding an activity you enjoy will make it easier to exercise more and be more effective in reducing your stress level.  The positive effects of exercising, including improved health, weight loss, reduced stress and more quality sleep make it worth the extra effort.

Photo “First Rule of Walking: Keep Hydrated” courtesy of sister72



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