The Exercise and Sleep Connection

Woman waking up from sleep

Having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or getting the recommended seven to eight hours a night? If you’ve bought a new mattress, use light blocking shades, don’t drink caffeine past 2 p.m. and still don’t’ sleep well, there’s a good chance you need more exercise in your day.

A National Sleep Foundation poll on exercise and sleep found that regular exercisers were significantly more likely to report sleeping well on most nights than people who were not physically active.

Sleep improves your waking hours and is important to our overall health. But many people report not sleeping well for one or more nights each week. Insufficient sleep over a stretch of time may play a role in the development of diabetes, depression, heart disease and obesity.

As we age, our sleep patterns and requirements change. Here are the recommended number of hours of sleep for all ages, according to the CDC:

  • Newborns: 16-18 hours
  • Pre-school aged children: 11-12 hours
  • School-aged children: 10 hours
  • Teens: 9-1- hours
  • Adults of all ages: 7 to 8 hours

If you or your children is having trouble getting the recommended amount of sleep, then ramp up the physical activity. It’s been shown that as little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise can improve the quality and length of sleep. You fall asleep faster and will sleep more soundly at night when you work out enough to fatigue the body and mind. 

Woman about to run on the beach

Your body will tell you the best time of day to exercise, but many studies point to the morning as a better option for improving sleep. What is most important is that you exercise consistently. But know that you may not reap the sleep benefit of exercise when you first become more active; it may take several week or months to develop a sound sleep pattern once you begin exercising.

Sleep and exercise are intertwined: The better sleep you get, the better workouts you will have and the better your sleep will be in the long term. Exercise also may reduce the risk for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.

According to Psychology Today, adults with insomnia who participated in a study and engaged in moderate aerobic exercise for 30 minutes, three to four times per week, for 16 weeks, had improved their sleep duration, quality and daytime sleepiness. A Northwestern University study cited by Psychology Today showed that the study participants reported better moods and quality of life with prolonged exercise and improved sleep. The study participants also slept as much as an additional 1.25 hours per night more than their non-exercising counterparts.

It takes about 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each week to impact the quality of your sleep.  Being well rested will also impact your waking hours. You will be more productive and have better focus. Plus, you won’t look like a racoon with big circles and bags under your eyes.

Exercise can be your non-pharmaceutical answers to a better night’s sleep and better health, so trade in those sleeping pills for a new pair of walking shoes and get moving.

Want to know where you give your exercise routine a lift with AlterG? Check out the ZIP Code Locator  to find a facility close to your home or work.

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