We all know that there’s a connection between working out and getting a good night’s sleep - after a hard session in the gym it’s often much easier to drop off to sleep without tossing and turning. But it’s not as simple as just being tired from the workout. There are a number of scientific factors which link exercise with improved sleep. In this article we’ve looked specifically at resistance band training, and how this can be linked to positive outcomes in terms of sleep health.
The physical effects of resistance band training are very simple in principle to those of free weight training, using fixed weight machines or suspension training. But how do they directly impact on your quality of sleep? We’ve identified several key areas where there is a provable effect.
Increased Body Temperature
If you work out with resistance bands (such as the ones at this link) in the evening or later at night, one effect on your muscles is to elevate their temperature. That’s no surprise, it’s due to the friction between individual muscle fibers coupled with the increased blood flow to the area and the higher rate of respiration and exertion.
This elevation in temperature continues for some time after you have finished exercising, and its effect on your muscles is very similar to that of a sauna or a warm bath - it promotes relaxation. It’s been proven that removing tension from your major muscle groups reduces the time it takes you to fall asleep, and also promotes sounder and deeper sleep which will allow you to wake feeling refreshed and ready for the new day.
Physical Changes Within The Body
Resistance training has a number of effects on the systems within the body, which are triggered by muscle development. As you exert your muscles, your body has to repair and strengthen individual muscle cells. This requires changes in certain bodily functions, such as glucose levels, blood pressure and the overall rate of metabolism.
The result is a general reduction in stress indicators such as cortisol, which has been proven to interrupt and lower the quality of sleep. So, training close to bedtime actually prepares your body for sleep by regulating the levels of various systems, leading to longer, deeper and more beneficial sleep.
Achieving Deeper Sleep
Another key link between resistance training and healthy sleep patterns is related to healing. Sleep is a necessary phase for the body to perform repairs to its cells and grow and develop new tissues. These processes are principally governed by fluctuations in the levels of different hormones within the bloodstream.
Evening workouts can help to induce the onset of deep, healing sleep as the microscopic damage done to individual muscle fibres during resistance training, which is what promotes muscle growth, also elevates the levels of some of these hormones, preparing your mind and body to drift off into a natural sleep.
Timing Is Everything
Sleep scientists have demonstrated that the amount of exercise time necessary per day to see real improvements in the quality of sleep is as little as 20 or 30 minutes. So that means that you should notice the beneficial effects of resistance training with a moderate workout on a daily basis. However, it appears that increasing either the length or intensity of your workout program can have a correspondingly greater effect on sleep quality, due to the greater demands placed on your muscles and therefore your body’s need for a longer and deeper period of rest to repair and replenish.
So adding a few more reps or increasing the resistance of the band you are using can potentially allow you to see even greater benefits. Of course, there is an upper limit, and should always take care to exercise sensibly and safely, as if you cause yourself an injury, that can actually disturb your sleep patterns, as well as preventing you from working out regularly while your muscles heal.
The timing of your exercise routine is also important. While you will still see benefits whatever time of day you work out, training closer to your normal bedtime is likely to prove the most beneficial, as the temperature, chemical and hormonal effects of the workout dissipate over time.
Sustained exercise, including resistance training boosts the production of endorphins, which are chemicals released by your body to reduce stress and the perception of pain. The presence of higher levels of endorphins in your system persists for some time after you have worked out.
This means that if you go to bed within a couple of hours after a workout, you are naturally less stressed and less tense, allowing you to get to sleep more quickly, and to sleep for longer without interruption.
Improvements to your mood can also have a beneficial cyclical effect. You work out, therefore your mood is a little better. You sleep better that night and feel well rested, so you’re more likely to be ready to work out again. The exercise improves your mood a little more, and you sleep even better. And so the positive feedback loop continues.
Beating The Effects Of Aging
As we age, all of us find it harder to maintain the same sleep patterns as we had when we were younger. Older people, particularly those over 70, experience a much higher incidence of sleep difficulties when compared to younger adults or children.
Sleep studies have found that along with improving upper and lower body strength in adults in their late seventies, a six month program of resistance training resulted in around forty percent of the group reporting higher quality sleep.
The evidence would suggest that those of us who keep active as we age, and in particular incorporate some form of resistance or other strength training into our daily regime, can expect less of a decline in the quality of our sleep as we get older.
Overall then, we can see that the effect that resistance training has on sleep quality is substantial, and multifaceted. From physical attributes such as blood pressure or glucose levels, to mental health attributes such as endorphin levels and general mood, the exercise we do with our resistance bands during the day has a huge effect on the quality of sleep, and the beneficial effects of that sleep, that we experience at night.
Adding resistance training into your exercise regimen you will help alleviate insomnia and increase your sleep quality. If you have already been using this method to improve your quality of sleep with zero success, you may have a more serious, underlying sleep disorder. Call Alaska Sleep Clinic today to speak with one of our board-certified sleep specialists. To improve your sleep and your life, youy need to be properly diagnosed and reated for your specific sleep problem.