There are many different reasons why we might find it difficult to sleep. We might be restless thinking about daily stresses of life, have drunk too much caffeine, be disturbed by excessive noise outside… You end up clock-watching almost every hour in the dark – or checking your phone for social updates at 3am. Research has shown that exposure to artificial light from screens just before bed or when we wake up can be detrimental for your health, as it suppresses the melatonin levels in our body – the hormone that signals the body for sleep. Low melatonin levels can be associated with sleeplessness, and have a downward-domino effect on our overall health. Issues include lack of concentration, weakened immune system, depression, poor diet, diabetes, and even heart disease.
However, there are ways that we can change this to improve our sleep pattern and get a better night’s sleep. We can take little steps to help improve our sleep patterns by:
- Getting some fresh air during daylight hours
- Not looking at your phone during the hour before bed
- Not having caffeine after 3pm
- Exercising on a regular basis
Some of these habits are easier to get into than others – but exercise is a key way to improve your rest as many studies have proven that regular exercise can help improve sleep patterns.
How Exercise Affects Sleep
Whether it’s cardio, HIIT training, strength training or low-intensity activities, exercise has been proven to change sleep patterns for the better.
“Exercise can help improve sleep quality and quantity”
When exercising, your body is under some stress, and cells can break during physical activity. The body requires sleep to repair these cells, so exercising encourages your body naturally to sleep. Any workout can promote deep sleep as it also uses up excess energy. During deep sleep, the most physically restorative period, your body’s cells are repairing as there is a spike in Growth Hormone at the time. Deep sleep helps to boost immune function, support cardiac health and promote concentration and mental processing.
By burning off the extra energy in your body, you can increase the amount of sleep your body gets. It helps you to feel more tired and ready to rest at the end of the day.
Reduced stress and anxiety
Incorporating a regular exercise routine into your daily life can also help reduce stress levels*. Stress can be a common cause of restless nights, leading to lack of sleep. Different training methods can trigger the body’s anti-anxiety responses to external factors. Holistic exercises such as yoga can help improve mind-body processes by quieting down the mind and reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels.
In all, taking up any form of exercise or physical activity can help reduce promote your sleep levels to benefit your physical and mental health. This is wholly beneficial to you in the long-run and will leave you happier too!