Everybody knows exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle—but did you know that when you exercise can affect how you sleep? Sleep, exercise, and diet are the three keys to living well and feeling your best; but how do you make sure that doing good things in one area doesn’t cause bad repercussions in another?
- Exercise early. Morning exercisers are invigorated by their workout routines and sleep better at night, according to sleep research published in the journal Sleep. Regular morning exercisers had significantly less trouble falling asleep than those who exercised less than 180 minutes each week, but evening exercisers had significantly more trouble falling asleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, body temperatures rise during exercise and can take over six hours to drop back to the cooler temperatures associated with quality sleep.
- Exercise often. A body that is accustomed to an exercise routine will handle the body’s changes more readily than one that exercises less regularly, according to the same study. Those who exercised less than 180 minutes per week didn’t see the same benefits as those who exercised 225 minutes or more.
- Practice good sleep hygiene. When you keep a regular sleep schedule, maintain a relaxing bedroom environment, and develop habits that improve your sleep, your regular exercise and sound sleep will work together to help you feel your best. You’ll probably even find a reduction in cravings for sweet and fattening foods, since your body is getting the “recharge” it needs from sleep and using its energy stores more efficiently thanks to regular exercise.
The same Sleep study cited above shows that reduction in body mass and the amount of time spent outdoors had, at best, inconsistent impacts on quality and duration of sleep. Losing weight isn’t enough. The key to maximizing the benefits of both your health and your sleep is to exercise more than six hours before sleep and preferably in the morning on a regular basis, and to practice healthy habits that help your body adjust to a sleep routine.
Do you exercise regularly and sleep well? What steps did you take to build and maintain a healthy schedule?