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The Importance of Regular Exercise for Sleep

The Importance of Regular Exercise for Sleep

One of the most unpleasant ailments one can experience is sleep deprivation, when your entire body is begging to rest but your eyes just will not shut. Luckily, different lifestyle changes such as eating healthier, and exercising regularly can positively affect your sleeping pattern.

The secret to falling asleep faster and waking up well rested lies in getting your body to move. As little as 7 minutes of aerobic exercise, like cycling or walking, can significantly improve the quality of your nighttime sleep, especially if done regularly. In addition, regular exercise may lower the risk of developing serious sleep disorders, such as restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea.

Physical activity, in any form, helps improve quality of sleep and lengthen sleep duration. It also helps boost sleep in other different ways, since it lowers stress levels and causes your body to tire out. Afternoon and early morning exercise may also assist in resetting the circadian rhythm by slightly adjusting the body’s temperature, then letting it drop and activate sleepiness after a few hours.

Although science does not yet have conclusive answers as to how or why exercise encourages sleep, several theories exist. One theory explains that exercise reduces insomnia since it decreases anxiety, arousal and depression, all of which are typically linked to the conditions of the sleep disorder. Another reason may be that exercise affects the circadian rhythms or one's body clock, allowing people with irregular sleep patterns to shift its timing depending on when they exercise.

A recent study involved men and women aged 60 who were diagnosed with insomnia. Those participants who were asked to partake in a 16-week exercise slept longer and woke up less frequently as compared to those who remained inactive. However, researchers also noticed the symptoms of insomnia only took place once the exercise period was over, and not immediately.

Obviously, more research is needed to draw conclusions regarding the connection and causal relationships between exercise and better sleep, but we do not need to know the reasons why for it to be beneficial. Exercises such as yoga, body stretches and aerobics can greatly help the body and mind relax completely, which in turn encourages a good night’s sleep that is free of stress and worries.