Being physically active is a great way to control your weight, improve your heart health, build muscle and so much more. Whether you head down to the gym, workout with a personal trainer, or have the best treadmill in your basement for an at-home workout, staying fit is an important part of being a healthy person. But what is the impact of physical activity on sleep?
This is an important question because, another important aspect of being a healthy and happy person is sleeping well. If you don’t get your 7-9 hours a night, you will often be unproductive, tired, and irritable. You will generally be a worse version of yourself. No one wants that.
While exercise and sleep seem to be vastly different from one another, they might actually be a little more connected than you think. With that in mind, this blog post is going to go over the impact that physical activity has on sleep.
Does Physical Activity Have an Impact on Sleep?
In short, yes. Physical activity can have a major impact on your sleep. First of all, moderate levels of exercise can help people reduce their sleep onset. Sleep onset is the time it takes them to fall asleep. Many people can take an hour or more to fall asleep once they get to bed. This can be a major problem and lead to a lot of frustration.
Physical activity can also help people who struggle with being sleepy in the daytime. It can often also help people who rely on medication to fall asleep a chance to do things naturally. Also, exercise also can increase the amount of slow-wave sleep that an individual gets. This type of sleep is very important for consolidating and processing your memories.
There are also some indirect ways that exercise can have a positive impact on your sleep. For example, if you make exercise a part of your life, your chances of experiencing excessive weight gain. In turn, this can help to lower your risk of suffering from sleep apnea.
In general, being active in your life is a great way to improve not only how much you are sleeping, but also the quality of that sleep. As far as what exercise you should do, that doesn’t matter as much as being consistent. Whatever you like to do and can remain consistent over time, will generally help your sleep.
Timing May Matter
So while exercise and physical activity have a positive impact on sleep, the time you workout or exercise may also matter. Many people say that if they exercise late in the evening before bed, it hurts their ability to sleep. This is largely because exercise can increase your heart rate and your adrenaline levels. Both of these can make it hard to sleep.
Also, exercise can cause the body to release endorphins that keep your brain active. With these endorphins flowing, it can be hard for some people to relax enough to fall asleep. Your body temperature will also rise when working out, and being too warm like this can make it hard for people to gain a quality night of sleep.
So if you want to be safe and ensure that exercise won’t hurt your sleep, make sure you are working out in the morning or afternoon. A good rule of thumb for most people is to avoid working out within three hours of when you will be going to bed.
However, there are differing opinions here. Just as some individuals and studies have found that late-evening exercise hurts sleep, others have found that it can help it. Since the results and studies vary, it is best to exercise whenever you have the time and motivation. Some studies have show that stretching before bed can improve sleep quality.
Also, it’s easy enough to stop working out right before bed if you begin to experience some negative consequences. So simply do what works best for you, and listen to your body.
Does Sleep Impact Exercise?
So you know by now that exercise has an impact on how we sleep but does sleep impact exercise? While it has not been studied as intently, many experts do indeed believe that sleep can have a positive impact on your exercise. In general, those who don’t sleep well aren’t as active as those who sleep well, as they often simply don’t have the energy or motivation to exercise.
Sleep helps people feel more energetic and awake during the daytime. This not only increases the likelihood that they will exercise but also can provide a boost to the quality of the exercise. If you go to the gym when you are lacking sleep, you will often be unable to go as hard. You won’t be able to have as good a workout as you might have liked. It has also been shown that sleep improves lean muscle mass.
Also, those who are morning people and wake up early ready to attack the day are generally more likely to be physically active than those who sleep in and prefer to do things in the evening.
Of course, simply sleeping well won’t automatically make you want to work out and work out harder. However, it does provide you with the energy and motivation to do so if you’d like.
How Much Exercise is Needed to Improve Sleep?
A general goal for most adults is to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each and every day. But how much is required to get the sleep-related benefits? Well, the good news is that the aforementioned 30 minutes a day should be enough for most people to experience positive results.
How long will it take you to see these benefits from sleep? The answer is not long at all. It won’t take someone weeks or months or exercise, and many may even see benefits the very first night. You won’t need to wait long for exercise to help you sleep better and longer.
We hope that this article has helped you see the impact that physical activity and exercise have on sleep. The two are certainly related and getting moderate amounts of activity can certainly help you sleep better and longer.