Are you a card-carrying member of the 4 am club? Unlike your local gym, it’s the club no one wants to join but often do anyway – and there’s usually a whole lot of tossing and turning going on there. Trouble is, middle of the night gymnastics doesn’t count as exercise.
Unless you’ve lived under a barrel for the last 50 years, you know exercise can reduce stress and anxiety, increase endorphins (happy happy) and lower your risk for many diseases. Good for your health, right? But did you know that on top of all these awesome benefits, exercise might be your golden ticket to a better night’s sleep?
Research shows getting just 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a day can improve your sleep quality by 65%, according to a study published by Oregon State University. Thirty minutes is nothing! That’s one episode of your favorite sitcom. “Increasingly, the scientific evidence is encouraging as regular physical activity may serve as a non-pharmaceutical alternative to improve sleep,” said Brad Cardinal, a professor of exercise science at OSU. Read more at SleepFoundation.com
The quality of sleep you receive after exercising may be linked to what time of day you choose to exercise. One study from Japan found that people who exercised in the afternoon had a better night’s sleep than those who exercised in the morning. Generally, doctors warn people with chronic sleep problems to stay away from working out within a few hours of bed. The rationale is that exercise raises your body temperature and is stimulating. However, this might not be a steadfast case. Some studies have shown that people can exercise close to bedtime and still sleep without a problem. Moral of the story, experiment, workout during different times of the day, figuring out what works best with your work and sleep schedules. Read more at Greatist.com
Ready to try exercise as a sleep aid? Start with a brisk 30 minute walk a few times a week. The fresh air and exercise should help. Don’t live in a climate where an outdoor walk is possible? Try a simple routine, like the one from Health.com, mixing cardio and strength training all from the comfort of your own home. On top of better sleep, once you start your exercise routine, you’ll have more energy and your waistline will start to shrink. There’s no doubt that the combination of exercise and sleep almost ensures you’ll be healthier and happier.
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