Exercise your way to Better Sleep

We all know that exercise is good for us. I have been working out since Jane Fonda donned her first pair of leg warmers. Over the years I have experimented with everything from yoga to Crossfit. As I have gotten older, and due to some health issues, I have been more focused on walking, Zumba, strength training and yoga. When it comes to exercise and sleep, it is all in the timing.

Research shows that exercising too close to bedtime can disrupt your sleep patterns. This is because physical activity raises your body’s core temperature. This can interfere with the natural cooling process your body needs to initiate sleepiness and quality sleep cycles. Certain workouts also spike cortisol levels, reducing sleep-promoting melatonin production.

So, if you’re struggling with insomnia or poor sleep quality, pay attention to when you schedule those gym sessions or at-home workouts. Experts recommend exercising earlier in the day – morning or early afternoon is ideal for regulating your circadian rhythm for healthy sleep. 

That’s not to say evening exercise is totally off the table. A low-key yoga practice, leisurely walk, or light stretching routine can promote sleepiness through relaxation and winding down. Just avoid anything too vigorous or high-intensity too close to bedtime.

Moving your sweat session to earlier in the day can help reduce stress and anxiety that could otherwise keep you tossing and turning at night. And starting your day with physical activity sets you up for better energy all day long.

The relationship between sleep and exercise is a reciprocal one. Regular physical activity improves sleep quality by helping you fall asleep faster, spending more time in restorative deep sleep stages, and waking less frequently. Adequate sleep, in turn, allows your body to properly recover and have enough energy for your workouts.

Don’t forget strength training too! Resistance work reduces stress and catalyzes deeper sleep for muscle recovery. The perfect mix of cardio and weights feels like the ultimate wellness win. Aerobic activities like walking, running, cycling ,and swimming are exceptionally good for better sleep.

Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate cardio per week. But, try to get those heart-pumping, high-intensity sessions done earlier, leaving just a gentle yoga flow or stretches for later in the evening.

Also, take your workout outdoors when possible reinforces your circadian rhythm with daylight exposure. And be sure to hydrate properly – dehydration can seriously disrupt sleep patterns.

The bottom line: When it comes to exercise and sleep, timing is everything. Plan accordingly, and you’ll be rewarded with energy-filled days and nights of sweet, restorative rest!

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