Alaska Sleep Education Center

Physical Activity & Sleep: Exercising For Better Sleep

Posted by Jennifer Monroe on Feb 25, 2022 1:35:00 AM

Portrait of happy men and women on fitness balls exercising with resistance bands in gym class

Regular exercise is recommended for everyone regardless of age, sex, or any other factor. Exercise helps us to get rid of stress and avoid depression, It also helps us to stay physically fit and provides energy to go about our daily chores. Another interesting benefit of regular exercise is that it assists us to get better sleep. This benefit is as surprising as it is interesting. How does an activity that involves action influence an activity that involves rest? This article aims to provide a link between exercise and other physical activities that can make you have a good sleep.



There is clear evidence that regular exercise can have a positive effect on a person’s weight. By visiting the gym, many individuals have successfully lost a couple of pounds. There are cases of people who went from being obese to becoming muscular. Exercise can do that to people. Those who are on the plus size often have difficulty sleeping. Obesity-related health problems like sleep apnea can be treated by reducing a person’s weight. Hence, people tend to sleep better when they begin to exercise more regularly.



In 2013, 3489 men and women in Norway who were void of any cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases were invited for a study. The study tried to create a relationship between insomnia and cardiorespiratory fitness. The participants were asked to exercise on a treadmill and their oxygen intake was measured. It was discovered at the end of the study that all of them were less likely to suffer insomnia because they exercised regularly. A notable feature of exercise from this study is that cardiorespiratory fitness allows us to use oxygen better when we are engaged in physical activity. Using gym equipment like a spinning bike or a treadmill increases cardiovascular fitness. This in turn helps us get a night of better sleep.


Circadian Rhythm:

We all have a biological clock. A cycle that our bodies follow at every time of the day. This clock is usually controlled by factors like light, temperature, or the redox cycle. This biological clock is called a circadian rhythm and it explains why most people are awake in the day and asleep at night. Because the body is used to being active in the presence of light and begins to shut down when darkness creeps in. Our circadian rhythm is controlled by a certain chemical in the brain called Serotonin. The level of serotonin in the body can be increased by performing aerobic exercises. An elevated level of serotonin helps us to sleep and wake up at the right time.



Regular workout is a physical activity that is often painful at its early stages. However, it can save us from a chunk of emotional pain. How? When we work out, the brain produces a protein called the brain-derived neurotrophic factor. This protein is important, helps to keep the brain healthy and saves us from the possible symptoms of insomnia and other problems that arise from depression. By reducing the symptoms of insomnia, exercise helps us to have a good rest at the end of the day.


Sleep Phase:

The body goes through four different phases when we sleep. In the first stage, the sleep is very light and we can be easily woken up in this stage. The heart and breathing begin to slow down and the brain begins to restructure itself. In the second stage, the muscles join in the relaxation party and the body temperature begins to drop. The third stage is where we fall deep asleep and can hardly respond to the environment.

The fourth and last stage is often linked to dreaming because the body begins to act like it is awake. Breathing increases, the eyes begin to move, and body muscles are paralyzed. Of all of these stages, the third stage is the most important for the body. Several pieces of research have helped to prove that deep sleep allows for a healthy brain and good metabolism. And exercise helps to increase the length of the deep sleep.

There are numerous benefits behind regular exercises that include getting better sleep. You should also understand that a consistent workout is all you need. Working for extra hours does not have any significant effect on your sleep. All that you need to do is keep to your 30 minutes of exercise daily.

If you find yourself dozing off while reading, watching tv, talking to someone, sitting in the classroom, orKeep a sleep diary for your physician. in traffic, sleep deprivation may be the reason. The best course of action is to start journaling when you find yourself falling asleep or dozing off.  

Many people report an improved mood and better memory, greater mindfulness, and reduced stress. At the same time, research has shown journaling to reduce symptoms in cancer patients and improve patient health after a heart attack.

What to Track for Your Doctor:

  • Wake up and bedtime
  • The last time and meal you last ate
  • The season and room temperature
  • How tired you were at work
  • The last drink you took (water, caffeine)
  • Any medications you took
  • Time of day and amount of exercise during the day


If you do not know where to start, writing prompts can be a good place to start if you are stuck. For example:

  • I can’t sleep because I’m worried about…
  • Today I felt…
  • In life right now, I feel...
  • I can’t sleep because tomorrow I have to…
  • I can’t sleep because I’m thinking about how to fix…
  • I can’t sleep because I’m mad about…
  • I wish I would have ____ today...
  • I can’t sleep because I have an idea about…

If you have never been diagnosed or seen a doctor over your sleep deprivation, consider contacting The Alaska Sleep Clinic for a free 10-minute phone call with a sleep educator who can help determine if a sleep study is necessary or if a consultation with our sleep specialist needs to be scheduled.

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Topics: alaska sleep clinic, exercises, get better sleep, feeling better

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