Exercise and a Good Night’s Sleep Go Hand-in-Hand

Categories: Physically Active

By Jocelyn Frain, Monadnock Family Services, InSHAPE program manager

Are you tired? Well … have you exercised today? The second question may sound a little silly if you answered “yes” to the first one. But, in fact a good night’s sleep and good exercise habits go hand-in-hand.

Most adults today do not get enough sleep, leaving them fatigued, unmotivated, lethargic and irritable. This lack of sleep can also lead to weight gain, increased risk of diabetes, inability to cope with stress and frequent colds and infections, according to the authors of the book The Exercise Cure.

Poor sleep quality and/or insomnia is, according to Mayo Clinic.org, “… a persistent disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep or both, despite the opportunity for adequate sleep.”

Insomnia strikes many adults at some time in their lives. Lack of sleep can be caused by stress and anxiety about work or life situations, or simply a busy schedule.

An exercise routine = a good night’s sleep

Implementing a daily exercise routine can not only reduce the number of nights you lie awake staring at the alarm clock, but it can also reverse the negative effects that lack of quality sleep may have on your health.

Exercise has many positive benefits, including a reduction in anxiety and stress through reducing cortisol levels (a stress hormone). Research shows that people who consistently exercise are 25 percent less likely to develop anxiety than those who do not; in cases of mild anxiety exercise can alleviate symptoms in just a few minutes.

According to The Exercise Cure, one study revealed that regular aerobic workouts significantly improved sleep quality among people with insomnia, while also alleviating feelings of depression and anxiety.

How to start

So, now you know that your insomnia could be related to a lack of exercise. But, right now you’re tired and don’t have the energy to even think about starting an exercise program.

But don’t think that you have to hit the gym for an hour each day to reap the benefits of a good night’s sleep. All you need, actually, is 30 minutes of movement each day.

Here are some ideas to ease you into a daily exercise routine:

  • Yoga and tai chi practices are both calming and strengthening, and can be fit into a short routine prior to bed.
  • Walking, biking, and hiking are all forms of exercise you can do with friends to catch up on each other’s lives and to help keep you motivated to maintain a new active lifestyle.
  • Local gyms have great group exercise classes for all levels where you can meet new people and learn new skills; such as self-defense, kickboxing or dance moves in Zumba.

Just remember to complete all exercise 2-3 hours prior to going to bed to give your body time to relax (except for calming yoga or tai chi routines).

Take a chance, try a new form of exercise and have fun! And you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time!