Posted 05 November 2021 by

Impact of Physical

Activity on Sleep

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One of the best things you can do for your body is remain physically active. It will build strength, reduce your chances of developing certain diseases, lower blood pressure, improve flexibility and help your joints. 

In addition to physical benefits, working out is also excellent for your mental health as it can help with stress, worrying, anxiety and other common issues. You will likely become a more confident person as you become more fit, as well.

Whether you decide to use the best treadmill to get your workouts in, play some sports, or primarily do strength training, you are helping your body and mind greatly when you are active. But in addition to the physical and mental benefits, many believe that being active also helps them sleep both better and longer. As you know, a good sleep is crucial to be productive at work or school, and is a big part of being a more positive individual.

But is this actually the case? Does physical activity have a positive benefit to your sleep? Well, that is exactly what this article is going to take a closer look at. Keep reading to learn more about the impact that physical activity has on sleep.


How Does Physical Activity Impact Your Sleep?

So does physical activity have an impact on your sleep? Well, the answer is a resounding yes. Maintaining an active lifestyle will have a positive impact on your sleep. First of all, being physically active can help you reduce your sleep onset time, which is how long it takes you to fall asleep at night.

Being physically active can help you sleep longer, and can help those who struggle with being overly tired and sleepy during the day. Sometimes, a good amount of physical activity can replace the need for sleep medication in some people, though not everyone will experience this benefit.

Many people experience indirect benefits of exercise on their sleep. For example, those who are physically active have a lower chance of becoming overweight or obese, which will, in turn, lower their chances of struggling with sleep apnea.

The precise reason why physical activity provides a general boost to the quality and duration of sleep is still relatively unknown, and experts may never know the exact mechanism responsible for the benefits. 

However, experts do know that exercise seems to increase slow-wave sleep levels. Slow-wave sleep is when the body and brain rejuvenates, and helps with memories, as well. Also, exercise can de-stress you and assist in stabilizing emotions, which are both a big part of naturally preparing yourself for sleep.


When are the Best Times for Working Out?

While we have learned that working out and remaining active is great for your sleep, does it matter what time of the day you should be working out? Everyone seemingly has a time of the day that they stress is the best time for exercise.

Some believe that working out in the morning is best, some think that a midday workout works better and others prefer the evening. The truth is, the time you work out generally doesn’t matter much. As long as you are exercising, you will get the aforementioned benefits to your sleep.

So simply choose a time that works the best with your schedule in life, and when you feel you have the most motivation to be physically active. However, you need to be careful with exercises ending within an hour before bed. Working out this close to when you are trying to sleep can make it harder to fall and stay asleep. 

This is because exercise can release endorphins that create activity in your brain that can make it hard to relax and calm down. Winding down with your endorphins still rushing can be a major challenge. Also, being physically active can raise your core body temperature, which can often help wake you up as opposed to prepare you for sleep. So evening workouts are fine, just not right before you go to sleep.


How Long Do You Need to Exercise to Get Benefits?

Doctors and experts alike recommend that people aim to be physically active daily to get the best physical and mental health results. In general, the average person should attempt to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise each and every day. This can be playing a sport, lifting weights, doing cardio, going for a walk, or even some hard work around the house.

But how much do you need to be active in order to get the associated sleep benefits? Well, the good news is, the 30 minutes a day recommended by experts is enough to see results. Of course, some people can benefit from more than 30 minutes a day, but that is enough for most people.

Also, you won’t need to wait a long time to enjoy these sleep-related benefits of exercise, as you should get them immediately. That’s right, you could see an increase in sleep quality the very first night after becoming physically active.


Does Your Sleep Play a Role in Physical Activity?

By now you know that physical activity plays a role in improving sleep, is the inverse also true? Does getting a good sleep have an impact on our levels of physical activity? Again, the answer is yes. Most studies have shown that those who suffer from poor sleep end up being less physically active than those who get a full night of high-quality sleep.

However, this has not been studied quite as much and the studies that have taken place have generally been focused on comparing physical activity between those who are healthy and those with sleeping disorders of some kind. But the results shouldn’t be that surprising.

If someone is getting poor sleep, they are likely to be more tired and thus be less willing to go to the gym when they could relax or get some extra sleep, instead. Those who are sleep-deprived may often have less motivation to get out and do something active. Even if these individuals do go and be physically active, the quality of their exercise is likely to suffer due to how tired they are.

Also, when you wake up might have an impact on how likely you are to be physically active. In most cases, those who wake up early and are “morning people”, have a higher chance of being active during their day.

Of course, while it seems that sleeping well should help people feel well-rested enough to exercise more, being physically active requires more than a simple good sleep. It still takes you getting up, motivating yourself, and doing the work. If you have never worked out before, don’t expect getting better sleep to magically motivate you. You need to be willing to change and put in the time and effort that being an active person requires.

As you can see, there is a large impact that physical activity has on sleep. As a result, be sure you are maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle as best as you can. It’s not always easy, and you may not have the motivation, but do your best to make a plan to be physically active, and stick to it.


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