It is no secret that exercise can help you sleep better because it makes you tired. But is there more to it? What type of exercise is best to help with insomnia? How much exercise should you be doing and at what time? Let’s dive in and understand how adding an exercise routine to your schedule can help you sleep better at night.
Waking up refreshed after sleeping all night – if that sounds like a dream to you, we have good news. Studies have shown a strong link between moderate aerobic exercises and improved sleep quality. Besides being great for your whole body and mind, exercise can help you fall asleep more quickly and improve sleep quality, according to Charlene Gamaldo, M.D., medical director of the Johns Hopkins Center For Sleep.
While doctors still cannot pinpoint the exact mechanisms that link better sleep to exercise, there are a few possible hypotheses. First, when you engage in moderate cardio exercises, your body temperature rises. When you are done with your workout, your body temperature drops back down. The drop in temperature may promote falling asleep.
Second, moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow-wave, deep sleep you can get. Slow-wave sleep is necessary for the brain and body to rejuvenate. Last, exercise releases endorphins, a feel-good hormone that is beneficial to stabilize your mood, decompress your mind, and naturally make you feel less stressed and ready for sleep.
Is There a Better Time of the Day to Exercise?
The short answer to that is, it depends. Some people find that endorphins released from exercise keep them awake and alert. If you are in that group, try exercising 1 to 2 hours before bed, so you can have enough time for your brain to process the endorphin surge and wind down. And, since exercise raises your body temperature like a hot shower, you may find yourself feeling sleepy after 60 to 90 min post-workout when your body temperature begins to drop.
However, some people don’t see a huge difference when it comes to exercising in the morning, afternoon, or evening, so you might have to try it and see what works best for you. This is a great chance to get to know your body and tune in to your natural rhythms.
How Long Do I Need To Exercise For?
The good news is that exercising does not take weeks or months to bring in results. You can feel it the same night. Experts recommend an average of 30 minutes of moderate (not high-intensity) aerobic exercise during the day. Creating a habit will be beneficial for you not only for getting better sleep but also for other areas of your health, especially if you can stick with it and stay consistent. Try adding an exercise routine to your day and adjust it as needed, then observe how it positively impacts your sleep quality.
How Can I Maximize The Benefits From Exercising To Reduce Insomnia?
Besides exercising, monitor your diet and limit caffeinated, high-sugar drinks and high-fat foods, especially in the late afternoon. Limit your exposure to electronics 2 hours before bed, and make sure your room is dark enough without any bright lights coming through the windows.
And here is a pro-tip – try using a Spoonk acupressure mat right after your workout session. It helps your body slow down, unwind, and it promotes better blood flow, which can help you reduce post-workout muscle soreness. Try using the Spoonk mat 15 min after exercising, and then again for 25-30 min before going to sleep. You may find you will fall asleep faster and wake up refreshed.
In short, a healthy diet, regular exercise routine, and consistent use of an acupressure mat can help you feel better and get a better night’s sleep without needing to reach for the medicine cabinet. Give it a try and let us know how it goes!