Unless you live under a rock, you know exercise is good for sleep – research study after research study has documented the relationship between sleep and exercise. Exercise can elevate mood and reduce stress as well as fortify a flagging circadian rhythm by promoting daytime alertness and encouraging sleepiness at night. Exercise has also been shown to help improve sleep for people with insomnia and other sleeping disorders. What’s more, exercise can help enhance the quality of sleep by promoting longer spans of slow-wave sleep, the most restorative stages of sleep.
Exercise seems like a simple fix for our sleep challenges. But we all know simple fixes are rarely easy…
Recent research from Restonic found that people who exercised regularly were more likely to sleep better than those who never exercise. Only 11% of people surveyed who don’t workout feel they get enough sleep. The type of exercise also impacts sleep, as those who participate in high-impact activities like cardio, running and CrossFit report getting enough sleep at double the rate of those who engage in low-impact exercises like yoga (22 % for CrossFit and 18 % for cardio and running, versus only 10 % for yoga).
But here’s the really startling insight – 49% of respondents say they NEVER workout. Never.
If we know exercise is good for us and our sleep health, it makes sense that we should all be doing it, right? But clearly we aren’t. According to Psychology Today, not exercising could be us simply giving into our aversion to being physically uncomfortable in the short-term, despite the long-term benefits. “Theories of human behavior have long shown that immediate experience often outweighs future rewards. What this means is that it is hard to do something uncomfortable even if it earns us something good later.”
Because exercise and sleep are so closely linked, a bad night’s sleep can discourage a trip to the gym the next day. And that can become a downward health spiral that’s hard to break free of – unless you focus on maintaining good sleep health AND regular exercise at the same time.
“Sleep is a barometer of health, like someone’s temperature. If a person says he or she isn’t sleeping well, we know they are more likely to be in poor health, with problems managing their hypertension or diabetes,” Phyllis Zee, MD, senior author and director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Northwestern Medicine, told WebMD.
Now that we know how important sleep is to exercise and exercise is to sleep, it’s time to learn how to sweat your way to better sleep and how to sleep your way to better workouts. Enjoy the full power of the Sleep/Sweat Connection by following these steps.
Do you believe it’s possible to sweat your way to a better night’s sleep and sleep your way to a better workout? How do you prioritize sleep and exercise in your life?
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