If you have trouble sleeping, you may have tried all of the tips to “get more sleep,” and you still find yourself tossing and turning in your sleep. You may be looking for something else. There are certain exercises that can help induce sleep, and they may work even if your sleep troubles are caused by something else. Aerobic exercise is especially important, going at least thirty minutes each day, three-five times per week.
Even if you’re just getting started, one ten-minute walk each day can really help boost your sleep quality right away. But if you already have trouble getting to deep sleep each night, adding more exercise can help improve your sleep quality. Just make sure you have done your exercise at least an hour before bed. If you exercise right before bed, physical activity can have an almost instant energizing effect, instantly making it difficult to go to sleep if you exercise too early in the day.
Try this exercise: Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Repeat three times, at least three hours ago. Before bed, make yourself do your best to relax your muscles. A good massage or a long hot bath can work wonders. If your body’s been feeling stressed lately, consider taking a yoga class or reading for awhile. You could also add some light, gentle movement to your daily routine.
How can exercise affect sleep, then, if I’m on a roll but not deep sleep yet? There’s more to it than that. When we think about it, exercise physically has a very real benefit. Think of the time you spend on your feet everyday. And consider that time when you stretch those muscles or move your body to the point that you start to feel exhaustion and physically tired.
The best way to get a good night’s rest is through physical activity. As we age, we tend to lose muscle strength and flexibility, and our bones begin to thin. When you engage in physical exercise, you strengthen your bones and muscle. This is a very tangible benefit to your overall well-being.
But physical exercise isn’t the only thing that improves sleep quality. There’s something called neuroplasticity that’s involved here, too. Think of neuroplasticity as the ability of nerve cells to change depending on what’s going on in the surrounding environment. In other words, when there’s a lot of noise in a crowded room, the nerve cells inside your ear might fire more when you think there’s a lot of noise, but when you move to a quieter space they fire less.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you should do nothing but exercise for three hours before bed. It means that you need to make an effort to get enough physical activity during the day. And it starts the very second you decide to go to sleep! If you keep your eyes open, you’ll find that you’ll be more alert and better able to absorb the information your brain receives while you’re falling asleep.
So, the next time you want to give someone advice about how to get a better night’s sleep, tell them to use language like “exercise” and “physical labor”. That will get their attention. After all, isn’t that the goal, anyway? The ability to get the most out of life, right? So make it easy on yourself.
When you hear someone giving advice about getting a good night’s sleep, tell them to use language like “exercise” and “physical labor”. See what that does. Not only does the sentence make a big impact on the listener, it keeps it simple as well. Don’t add extra words, just change the sentence. The same goes for “exercise” and “physical labor”, because they already have the effect of modifying your language.
Now consider this: How can exercise affect sleep quality for someone who only exercises for an hour or two per week? If they don’t exercise long enough to build muscle, there’s really no way that exercise could change their sleep. But if you exercise moderately-intensity for 20 minutes per session, you’ll find that you do sleep better. That’s because moderate-intensity exercise releases certain hormones in your body that cause you to feel tired. Those hormones act as natural sleep aids.
So if you’re wondering, “How can exercise help me get a better night’s rest? “, the answer is that it depends. If you’re only working out for a few hours per week, moderate-intensity exercise will likely be enough. If you exercise for hours per day or more, your body will need more nutrients to produce more muscle, which means that you will need more sleep. Moderate-intensity exercise can increase your energy and stamina, but it doesn’t necessarily require as much sleep as longer sessions of more intense physical activity.