Getting enough sleep in the digital age is a tough task.
There are too many gadgets to entertain your eyeballs before succumbing to shuteye. Downloads and web-streaming are winning the battle of the night over dream time.
Among U.S. adults, poor sleep affects 25% of the population, with insufficient rest counting for 15 out of every 30 days. That’s a lot of lost sleep. And everyone knows you can’t really “catch up” on those missing hours.
The best way to regain better sleep patterns is to exercise. Active adults fall asleep faster. Tired adults with poor sleep health remain tired during the day and have difficulty concentrating.
150 minutes of exercise per week is enough to gain power of sleep benefits.
The good news is that it only takes a few hours of moderate exercise per week to join the sleep well crowd. According to Department of Health and Human Services, just 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of physical exertion is sufficient to improve the quality of your sleep.
That’s only 30 minutes, five days a week. C’mon that’s a minor trade-off for zonking out on time.
Restless Mind vs. Tired Body
When determining good sleep, I separate out a restless mind from a tired body. The former will keep you awake with stress, anxiety and negative thoughts, while the latter is pure and healthy physical exhaustion from exercise.
My mind never turns off. If I’m stressed out over work, finances or family, then I lie awake til 3am. My remedy is to either go swimming or get in a weightlifting session the next day. These two activities ensure a full body workout that tires me out completely. I go to bed early and flop with no energy to think.
5 Interesting Exercise Effects on Sleep
Let’s get one exercise myth out of the way first. The National Sleep Foundation specialists say exercising in the evening does not make you stay up all night. Although, those new to exercise may suffer a few aches and pains that disrupt your sleep.
In a study of various factors affecting sleep, men and women kept sleep diaries and found the following attributes of exercise (mainly walking & jogging):
- Easy to Fall Asleep – Exercising elicited positive responses including a deepness of sleep, a sense of well-being and having more alertness in the morning.
- Early vs. Late Evening Exercise – Activities performed in the early evening provided better sleep over vigorous late evening workouts.
- Light vs. Vigorous Exercise – Participants felt that light to moderate workouts had positive effects on sleep.
- Late Night Workouts – More negative effects on sleep occurred when vigorous exercise was performed later in the evening.
- No Absolute Trends – Participants had both positive and negative sleep effects from early or late evening exercise.
Find Your Personal Sleep Nirvana
Getting the right amount and best quality of sleep is an individual experiment. Exercise is an important part of that equation.
The old adage that “everyone needs to get 8 hours of sleep” is not for everyone. For instance, I’ve worked out that 7 hours is my premium sleep time. Another hour tends to make me groggy-headed since I dream too much.
As the above study highlights, finding the best time to workout is also key to a restful night. If I exercise within 2 hours of going to bed, then my body is too jacked up to sleep. But an early evening run or swim puts me in a tired and relaxed state that welcomes sleep to come sooner.
Quality sleep is adequate sleep that translates into improvements in health, wellness, productivity, energy levels and other aspects of your life.
Don’t let your sleep habits play havoc with your health. Fall asleep fast with a modicum of effort.