When it comes to exercise and sleep, people who have an active lifestyle tend to also sleep better. Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and it is proven to improve sleep quality, helping people to sleep longer and to experience more deep sleep.
Can exercise affect how you sleep?
Exercise elevates the body temperature, heart rate, and adrenaline levels, which can make it harder to fall asleep. With a full-on 9 to 5 schedule, it can be tricky to find the time to work out during the day, meaning that weekday evenings are often the only opportunity that we get to be active. If this suits your body clock, there’s no reason to change it.
However, if you’ve ever found that you can’t sleep after exercising - often lying wide awake after the physical exertion of a post-work HIIT class or spin session - you may find that sticking to a less intensive type of sport or activity before bed will have less impact on your sleep cycle.
How does exercise improve sleep?
Regular physical exercise can benefit sleep in the following ways.
- Better sleep quality and longer duration
- Reduction or management of sleep disorders
- Increase in deep sleep
Is there a best time to exercise for sleep?
Exercise triggers a number of biological effects in the body which can interfere with the sleep cycle.
- It releases endorphins
Endorphins increase the level of activity in the brain which can keep you awake. It can take up to two hours for these effects to wear off, so bear this in mind if you don’t want any issues sleeping after a workout.
- It raises the core body temperature
Our body temperature drops during stage 2 of the initial non-REM sleep cycle, whereas an elevation in core temperature is part of our wake cycle. A raised body temperature can delay the onset of the sleep cycle by around 30 to 90 minutes.
Still feeling the burn? Help yourself to cool down more quickly by lowering the temperature in the bedroom, and by using breathable bedding and a cooling mattress. Simba’s Hybrid® pillow and duvet feature Stratos® active temperature regulation to help keep your core temperature at a sleep promoting level.
- It can increase your appetite
Stomach grumbling? Rather than chowing down on a huge meal and giving your digestive system a lot to process during the night, choose a more sleep-friendly post-workout meal.
What are the best exercises to help sleep?
All forms of exercise will help you sleep better in the long run, but if timing is an issue and work out time is short, then aerobic or cardio exercise - which increases the heartbeat and breathing rate - is more likely to keep you up for longer.
The following types of exercise are less likely to have an effect on your ability to get to sleep.
- Strength training with weights
- Gentle swimming
- Stretching or breathing exercises
How does sleep impact exercise?- Sleep allows the muscle tissue to repair overnight, so it’s an important part of recovery
- We need a sufficient amount of sleep to give us the energy to exercise
- Not getting enough sleep can make us less motivated, less physically active during the day, and also increase the likelihood of a sports injury