It is widely known that exercise benefits your overall health, but what you may not know is how it can help you sleep. It has a range of benefits for your rest and one recent study on using exercise to treat insomnia had fantastic results. Dr. Kelly Baron split her patients into two groups and assigned one group exercises and asked the other to remain sedentary. What she found was that after four months, those who were exercising reported sleeping for 45 minutes to an hour more every night. They woke up less often and achieved a better quality of sleep. While research is still on going on how exactly exercise works scientists have discovered the following:
One of the biggest causes of sleep loss and insomnia is anxiety and stress. Exercise is a natural mood booster, helping relieve these issues. Your mood begins to lighten just five minutes into a workout due to the release of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that anti-depressants target. This transmitter has a variety of functions, including regulating your mood and your sleep/wake cycle. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in the UK recently looked into how physical activity affects these levels and found that being active increases the release and movement of serotonin within the brain. They also found it increases the levels of the amino acid tryptophan, which is needed to manufacture the neurotransmitter and in turn, lighten your mood.
Day Time Sleepiness
Too much sleep also has a negative effect on your health and constant tiredness is a nuisance to all. Not to mention, wanting to take a nap all day can actually affect the quality of your sleep once you finally hit the hay at night. Exercise helps combat excessive day time sleepiness through the release of adrenaline and increasing your overall energy levels. This helps you to keeps more regular sleep and wake cycles, ensuring you achieve a better quality sleep. Moreover, many people with conditions such as sleep apnoea, obesity, diabetes and short sleep duration have increased levels of inflammatory markers, which are thought to cause sleepiness. Exercise reduces the levels of inflammatory markers, partially explaining how it combats day time sleepiness.
For the best effects, make working out part of your morning routine, as it’s proven that this helps you wake up easier and improves your circulation. Avoid exercising last thing at night as this actually prevents you from falling asleep straight away due to the elevated heart rate and adrenaline levels.