The importance of exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle is well-documented. Working out regularly can help you control your weight, fight heart disease, and boost your mood. Moreover, exercise can also promote better sleep at night and greater alertness during the day., To get the greatest benefit from the exercise-sleep connection, it’s important to understand why it works, how much activity you need to see benefits, and when to schedule a sweat session for maximum sleep results.
How Exercise Helps Sleep
Regular exercise, particularly in the morning or afternoon, can impact your sleep quality by raising your body temperature a few degrees. Later in the day, when your internal thermostat drops back to its normal range, this can trigger feelings of drowsiness and help you drop off to sleep. Also, if you exercise outdoors, you’ll be exposed to natural light, an important element in helping your body establish a good sleep-wake cycle.
How Much Should You Sweat?
If you strive to complete about 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every week, you’ll help improve your sleep quality and also meet the national guidelines for physical activity. This works out to about 30 minutes, five times a week. Can’t fit that much in? Even just 10 minutes a day of walking, swimming or biking can improve your nightly zzz’s.
The Right Time to Work Out
Believe it or not, there are actually optimal times during the day for exercise. To reap the benefits of solid nighttime sleep, it’s better to hit the gym in the morning or afternoon, rather than in the evening. By working out in the morning, you’ll enjoy longer, deeper sleep at night; an afternoon session will allow your body temperature to rise, then fall, just when you’re ready to hit the hay. Evening exercise doesn’t necessarily allow enough time for this temperature change to occur. Plus, the stimulation from a workout at a later hour may keep you awake.
The sleep benefits from exercise may be greater for some people than others. But even if it isn’t the cure-all you’ve been hoping for, you can feel good knowing that by incorporating regular workouts into your week, you are moving your health in the right direction.