Alaska Sleep Education Center

Daily Exercises That Change Your Sleep Habits

Posted by Lewis Robinson on Jan 18, 2022 1:00:00 AM

Sporty young woman leaping over a stream in a forest on a run

A good night’s sleep is something that so many adults want; however, far too many adults struggle to achieve it. Resting gives you time to recharge after a long day and gives your body the chance to reset. This healing process can be far from reach for many. If you are struggling to get sleep, introducing exercise can do wonders for your health and help you rest. If you want to change your sleep habits, here are a few useful exercises that you should try and reasons why you need them.

Running

Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise out there. This form of cardiovascular activity ramps up your heart rate and gets your blood flowing among other wonderful side effects. Not to mention that running is also a physically intensive exercise, leaving you tired at the end of the day, ready to unwind and rest. Running outside can also expose you to natural light which also has a substantial impact on regulating your body’s natural cycles. Whether you like to run on a treadmill indoors or enjoy the fresh air outdoors, grab your running accessories and hit the ground running.

Walking

While it does not have the impact of running and will not jack up your heart rate, walking outdoors is a great way to help with your sleep. Exposing yourself to fresh air, natural light and getting out of your house can do wonders for your sleep cycle. Even if your home gets a significant amount of natural light, there is nothing like actually stepping outside to get the full effects of time in nature. While any amount of time will help, spending fifteen minutes at the start of your day and the end of your day on a sunny day and thirty minutes on cloudy days can do wonders for helping you regulate your sleep.

Hiking

Hiking is a lower impact activity; however, it combines many of the benefits that you see in other forms of cardiovascular exercise. While often slower in pace, the incline and the challenge of navigating trails can add a level of intensity that can have wonderful health benefits. Not to mention that you can choose trails that range in difficulty from a leisurely nature walk to what feels like scaling a mountain.

Swimming

While many forms of intense cardiovascular exercise are great for your heart and sleep hygiene, if your body could benefit from lower impact, you should consider swimming. Swimming engages all of your muscle groups and will force you to work against the natural resistance of the water. Not to mention that water also has a calming, quieting effect that can leave you feeling relaxed and at the end of the day, ready for rest. While there are plenty of forms of exercise out there, swimming is one that many adults enjoy because of its difficulty with significantly less impact.

Weightlifting

Alternating workouts is a useful way to ensure that you are using all muscle groups. If you enjoy cardiovascular exercise, you also need to consider adding in a weightlifting regimen to diversify your exercises. This will leave you with a well-rounded workout routine and another activity that can promote better sleep. Weightlifting requires a significant amount of focus and energy, leaving you well-positioned for a good night’s sleep. Keep in mind that you won’t want to engage in something like this too late in the day if you want to relax and rest.

HIIT Exercises

If you want to combine the worlds of weightlifting with cardio, you can find yourself entering the world of high-intensity interval training. With bursts of energy, quick movements and weight or resistance, you will soon understand why it is considered high intensity. If you want to tire yourself out for a good night’s rest, you should try HIIT.

Team-Based Activities

You may not have given team-based sports and activities much thought; however, these can do wonders for someone with sleep struggles. This provides an outlet for physical activity and a community. Community and personal relationships are key to wellbeing, stress management and overall living a good and healthy life, all of which affect your sleep. With a team-based activity, you can enjoy the benefits of physical exercise while also engaging in a much-needed community.

Stretch-Based Activities

While burning off energy during the day can tire you out for sleep, you may also struggle to unwind at the end of the day. Stretch-based activities like yoga and tai chi focus your attention on your body and your breath. This can be the perfect way to decompress after a long day. While you likely don’t want to do an intensive exercise right before bed, using stretch-based exercise and activities to release some of the tension that has built up during the day can do wonders for the body and sleep.

Cooling Down

Cooling down is one of the most important exercise factors that many adults tend to shrug off. If you don’t invest the time and energy into cooling down, you leave your muscles keyed up and ill-equipped to rest. While this can cause muscle discomfort and cramps when you sleep, it can also cause long-term injury if you aren’t careful.

Other Considerations for Exercise and Sleep

Many people are often surprised to learn how much exercise and sleep go hand in hand. While exercise can have a substantial impact on your slumbering satisfaction, cycle and long-term sleep health, there are also other factors with your exercise that you need to consider if you want to improve your wellness and sleep hygiene. Specifically, timing and stress management are things that you need to consider. Exercise and physical activity can be difficult to squeeze into an already busy schedule; however, your timing matters and exercise could be interfering with your slumbers. When you increase your heart rate, blood flow, core temperature and movement, it signals to your body that it is time to be awake and alert. Timing your workouts so that you have enough time to unwind will help you achieve a better night’s sleep and give your body time to cool down.

Another key consideration is your stress management. Stress is often a key contributor to poor sleep. If you want to rest more soundly, take time to exercise as a way to release some of that tension. If you experience considerable amounts of stress, you may also want to find other positive outlets so that you can achieve more sound slumbers.

Sleep and exercise have a direct link. While physical activity may be the last thing on your mind when you are tired, when used correctly, it can improve your sleep and set you up for slumbering success. Don’t continue the endless cycle of poor sleep and insufficient exercise, when you can use these activities and considerations to live a happier and healthier life.

Exercise can significantly improve not only your quality of sleep but the time it takes to actually fall asleep – without drugs. A 2010 study at Northwestern University showed that people who exercised regularly and brought their heart rates up to 75% max slept better and had more energy during the day compared to people who did not exercise but exerted themselves mentally (ie, through cooking classes or listening to a lecture).

If you are suffering from insomnia and want to see if the physical activity will help, exercise earlier in the day; there is evidence that getting your heart rate revved up just before bedtime might keep you awake.

As always, contact Alaska Sleep Clinic for any of your sleep concerns. Alaska Sleep Clinic is the most experienced sleep lab in Alaska with Telemedicine. We remain open to taking care of your CPAP needs and can mail all supplies directly to your home. Your safety AND sleep health remain our top priorities.

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Topics: alaska sleep clinic, exercises, exercise, get better sleep, bipap

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