Yes, exercise will actually help you to sleep better! If you've ever struggled to get a good night's rest or felt like you couldn't shake yourself out of that five o'clock slump, take heart, there is hope for you. According to an article by the National Sleep Foundation, (for the especially curious, here is the original study from Bellarmine University and Oregon State University) men and women aged 18 through 85 were 65% more awake during the day and reported better sleep if they got at least 150 minutes of exercise per week, or about twenty minutes per day. If there's one key takeaway from this study, it's that exercise made them sleep better and feel more rested, and it can certainly do the same for you.
Regular Exercise Fights Bad Sleep Factors
Regular exercise doesn't just promote better sleep, it also fights things that interfere with good, quality sleep like depression and stress. According to Harvard Health Publishing, regular aerobic exercise can even produce a relaxing effect that facilitates healthier sleep. The relaxing effect comes in part from increasing the body's ability to handle and regulate stress by exposing it to the controlled stress of exercise. This, in turn, will create better bodily management of stressors like cortisol, which get released steadily while performing vigorous activity. Cortisol, which is also largely responsible for the natural sleep/wake cycle of the brain, is really a key factor in understanding how exercise affects sleep. The body is very much like a finely tuned machine, and when one thing is out of kilter it can lead to a whole host of problems, so making sure your cortisol levels are healthy by regularly exercising is super important for your sleep.
When Is the Best Time to Exercise for Better Sleep?
As it turns out, it doesn't really matter when the exercise is performed. This self-report sleep study from the National Sleep Foundation concluded that morning, afternoon, and evening exercisers reported higher quality sleep on days that they exercised than days they did not. There was a slight sleep advantage enjoyed by morning exercisers, but the margin wasn't very big. So, go nuts and visit your gym as early or as late as your heart desires! Just be sure to get in your 150 minutes every week to enjoy these benefits to your sleep and a higher quality of living.
If sleeping better and getting in shape is something that appeals to you, feel free to browse our class schedule where you can gain access to cardio classes, Qigong, and strength training. We look forward to seeing you, and please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.