How Does Exercise Affect Sleep?

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If you don’t like to work out, you won’t want to hear this: A regular workout schedule will help you sleep better at night.

The National Sleep Foundation’s 2013 Sleep in America poll found that exercisers and non-exercisers sleep about the same amount, but people who exercise are much more likely to report that their sleep quality was very good or fairly good in the past two weeks. And in 2013, researchers conducting a small study found that people diagnosed with insomnia saw serious improvements in their sleep after four months of regular workouts.

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One school of thought is that exercise tires out both your body and mind, allowing you to fall asleep more quickly and sleep more deeply. But everyone’s relationship to sleep and exercise is likely different.

The National Sleep Foundation says that the optimal time for working out really depends on the individual. For some people, a late-night workout session may elevate their body temperature and interfere with their sleep/wake cycle — but others may experience no such issues. Furthermore, the type of exercise you do may not matter, either.

The foundation recommends aerobic exercises and strength training, meaning that walking, running, cycling, swimming, sports, weight lifting, pilates, and barre are all fair game. The foundation also highly recommends yoga, which benefits both the body and the mind.

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So, there’s no one-size-fits-all prescription of a specific exercise or time of day that will guarantee you a better night’s’ sleep on the regular. But what all the experts can agree on: If you’re sedentary, it’s time to get moving on a regular basis.

“If you are inactive, adding a 10-minute walk every day could improve your likelihood of a good night’s sleep,” sleep expert Max Hirshkowitz, Ph.D. said in a National Sleep Foundation press release. “Making this small change and gradually working your way up to more intense activities like running or swimming could help you sleep better.”

Can meditation help you sleep? Click here to find out. 

Obviously, regular exercise has tons of benefits other than sleep. And while it’s not an overnight fix, adding workouts to your life can lead to real sleep results.

“As we so often learn, there is no magic bullet or quick fix to solve sleep problems,” clinical psychologist Michael J Breus Ph.D. wrote in an article for Psychology Today. “But when it comes to sleep and exercise, there is a significant benefit to be gained by sticking with a regular routine and allowing the benefits to developing gradually. Slow and steady wins the race, in this case.”

 

Featured image: Alena Ozerova/Shutterstock

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Joe Auer

Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site.

He likes things simple and take a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications.

Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.

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