How Can Exercise Affect Sleep?

There is some evidence to suggest that getting regular exercise can improve the quality of sleep one gets at night.


There are a many people who have trouble sleeping enough or getting decent sleep. The next day, we will feel weary as a result of this, but in the long run, poor sleep quality can also have a detrimental influence on other elements of our health and wellness as well. There is a plethora of advice available to people on how they might improve their quality of sleep, from taking a warm bath in the evening to putting their phone away for a few hours before bed to sleeping on your back rather than your stomach.

However, one of the pieces of advice that is given the most frequently to those who have trouble getting a decent night's sleep is to engage in regular physical activity. In addition, the findings of the research indicate that this is actually quite sound counsel.


For instance, a meta-analysis that was conducted in 2015 and included all of the most recent data on sleep quality, length, and exercise, found that both short-term and regular exercise (a few sessions a week) can contribute to improved sleep quality. This suggests that even a single session of physical activity may be sufficient to improve both the quality and duration of one's sleep.


In addition, studies have shown certain kinds of physical activity are best for promoting better sleep. People who engage in regular aerobic activity, for example, have been proven to have an easier time falling asleep, to wake up less frequently throughout the night, and to feel more rested when they wake up the following morning. This was true for a wide variety of different types of aerobic activity, including running, cycling, and even brisk walking at a fast pace.


Even just one session of aerobic exercise lasting thirty minutes will enhance several elements of sleep; however, this improvement will not be nearly as significant as it would be with regular aerobic activity. It was demonstrated, despite this, to lengthen the amount of time spent asleep, shorten the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, and boost sleep efficiency (the proportion of time spent in bed that is really spent sleeping). A higher sleep efficiency means that one gets a higher quality of sleep.


There has been less focus placed on the relationship between resistance training (such as weightlifting) and improved sleep quality. However, it appears that resistance exercise may also be able to improve sleep quality, based on the modest number of studies that have been undertaken on the topic.


According to a number of studies, individuals who regularly engage in resistance training (about three sessions per week) report higher levels of overall satisfaction with the quality of their sleep. Even the illusion that you get sufficient amounts of quality sleep might have a negative impact on how well you perform during the day.


People who suffer from insomnia may find that engaging in regular resistance exercise helps them fall asleep more quickly and improves the quality of their sleep. However, because there has been so little research conducted in this area, we need to proceed with extreme caution before drawing any conclusions.


The good news is that the benefits of exercise for sleep appear to work for everyone, regardless of your age or whether or not you have certain sleep disorders.


The effect that physical activity has


Although it is evident from the research that physical activity can improve our quality of sleep, researchers are still not entirely clear on exactly how exercise has this effect, although they do have a few hypotheses to explain it.


The sleep-wake cycle of our body is regulated by an internal "clock" that keeps it on a schedule that is roughly equivalent to a 24-hour period. Melatonin, a hormone, is secreted in the evening as part of this cycle, and it is this hormone that is responsible for making us feel sleepy. People who exercise during the day may experience an earlier release of the sleep hormone melatonin in the evening. This phenomenon may be the reason why active people fall asleep more quickly.


Exercising also causes an increase in the temperature of our internal organs. However, once we finish our workout, our internal body temperature starts to gradually return to its normal level. The core temperature of the body dropping before bedtime can also facilitate sleep. In contrast to what most people believe, research suggests that getting some exercise in the evening can actually help some people get a better night's sleep that same night.


Exercise might also lead to better sleep because of its positive effects on mood and mental health, both of which can be associated with sleep quality. Endorphins are chemicals that are produced naturally in the body during physical activity. Endorphins have been shown to have a positive effect on mood. The symptoms of anxiety and despair can also be reduced by engaging in regular physical activity. Because exercise has been shown to have a positive effect on both mood and mental health, it may therefore make it easier for people to fall asleep at night.


In spite of the fact that a much more research needs to be done to figure out exactly why different kinds of exercise affect many different aspects of our sleep, it is already obvious that exercise can be beneficial for sleep. It's possible that getting just 30–60 minutes of exercise every day can help you fall asleep more quickly, stay asleep longer throughout the night, and feel more rested when you wake up the next morning.


Even a single workout session can improve your quality of sleep; however, a consistent exercise routine is likely to result in even greater improvements to your slumber. Because there are numerous forms of physical activity that have been associated with better sleep, all you need to do is select a workout that you enjoy doing. This could be anything from running to swimming to lifting weights or even just going for a brisk walk.


Over the course of many years, a significant amount of research has been conducted examining the connection between physical activity and quality of sleep. Previous research has found that getting the recommended amount of exercise can improve your quality of sleep and make it easier to get the required amount of shut-eye. Recent studies have shown that getting insufficient or poor quality sleep can lead to lower levels of physical activity on the day following the night in question.


Because of these factors, contemporary specialists feel that sleep and physical activity have a reciprocal relationship. In other words, enhancing the quality of your workout routine can potentially help you get a better night's sleep, and getting the recommended amount of sleep each night can potentially promote healthier levels of physical activity during the day.


What kind of an effect does exercise have on sleep?


The benefits of maintaining a regular exercise routine are numerous. These include a decreased likelihood of developing diseases such as cancer and diabetes, enhanced physical function, and an overall improvement in one's quality of life. Additionally beneficial to certain populations is regular physical activity. For instance, pregnant women who maintain a regular exercise routine have a lower risk of experiencing postpartum depression or gaining an unhealthy amount of weight after giving birth. Additionally, elderly people who remain active have a lower risk of injuring themselves in the event that they take a tumble.


A lot of people find that when they exercise, they sleep better. To be more specific, individuals who engage in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity can improve the quality of their sleep by reducing the amount of time it takes them to fall asleep (also known as the "sleep onset") and the amount of time they spend awake in bed during the course of the night. In addition, engaging in physical exercise can assist in the reduction of daytime drowsiness and, for some individuals, the requirement for the use of sleep drugs.


Indirectly, physical activity can also lead to better sleep quality. For instance, engaging in moderate-to-vigorous physical exercise can reduce the chance of excessive weight gain, which in turn makes the individual less likely to encounter symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Obesity has been linked to around 60 percent of cases ranging from moderate to severe OSA.


Innumerable studies have been conducted to investigate the sleeping and exercising patterns of individuals.  52% of those who participated in the studies reported that they worked out three times or more every week, while 24% of respondents indicated that they worked out fewer than once each week. Respondents who fell into the latter category had a greater likelihood of sleeping for fewer than six hours per night, experiencing sleep quality that was either fair or poor, having difficulty falling asleep and remaining asleep, and being given a diagnosis of a sleep disorder such as insomnia, sleep apnea, or restless legs syndrome.


A survey conducted in 2013 with participants ranging in age from 23 to 60 years old and centered on the topic of "Exercise and Sleep" produced comparable findings. Approximately 76-83% of respondents who engage in light, moderate, or strenuous exercise reported very good or rather good sleep quality. This percentage range was consistent across all three intensities of exercise. This number reduced to 56% for people who did not engage in physical activity. People who exercised regularly had a greater chance of sleeping longer and better over the week than those who did not.


Research and polls of a similar nature have also been conducted to investigate the effects of exercise on people belonging to different demographic categories. Exercise and other forms of physical activity were shown to be effective in lowering test-related stress, according to the findings of a study that followed college students during exam periods. According to the findings of another study, sleep and physical activity have a "dynamic relationship" for elderly people who live in the community. In addition, a third study discovered that patients with OSA experienced fewer symptoms when they engaged in consistent aerobic activity, even if they did not experience any weight loss as a result of their efforts.


There is some evidence that employment that involves manual labor does not provide the same alleviation for sleep difficulties as does exercise. One of the reasons for this is that many physically demanding jobs frequently result in musculoskeletal aches and pains, which can make it difficult to get a good night's sleep. In addition, those who perform manual labor that requires long hours on the job may be at a greater risk for experiencing stress and weariness. It may be advantageous to locate the appropriate mattress for your sleeping preferences and body type to assist reduce discomfort or encourage recovery in situations where the quality of sleep is significantly impacted by activities such as strenuous exercise or manual labor.


Is It Unhealthy to Work Out Right Before Going to Bed?


Over the course of many years, one of the most contentious topics of discussion has been the possibility that engaging in physical activity in the hours leading up to bedtime reduces the quality of sleep achieved. According to the principles of traditional good sleep hygiene, strenuous physical activity in the three hours before going to bed can have a detrimental effect on the quality of your sleep due to the fact that it can raise your heart rate, body temperature, and adrenaline levels. On the other hand, a number of studies have found that engaging in physical activity prior to going to bed may not result in any adverse effects.


According to the findings of one poll, the vast majority of individuals who exercise at a time that is later than 8:00 p.m. report having a more restful night's sleep, falling asleep more rapidly, and waking up feeling refreshed. Respondents who exercised between the hours of 4 and 8 p.m. reported comparable percentages for these groups, which suggests that exercising late at night may really be beneficial for some individuals.


The findings of other investigations have come to the same conclusions. In one study, participants who exercised in the evening reported experiencing more slow-wave sleep, higher latency for rapid eye movement sleep compared to the control group, and less stage 1 (or light) sleep than those who did not exercise in the evening. However, the researchers also found that a greater core temperature, which is something that can happen after intense workouts, was connected with a reduced sleep efficiency and more time awake following the commencement of sleep. Therefore, getting some exercise before going to bed might not be inherently dangerous, but strenuous workouts in the hour before going to bed can have an impact on how well you sleep and how long you sleep overall.


Because the findings of surveys conducted on people who exercise late at night have been inconsistent, you should tailor the duration and intensity of your workouts to what works best with your timetable for getting to bed. There is some evidence that certain types of exercise are more beneficial for sleep than others. Yoga, gentle stretching, and deep breathing are some examples of these exercises.


What kind of effects does exercise have on sleep?


The influence that sleep has on our levels of physical activity has not been investigated to the same extent, and the majority of the study has concentrated on the disparities in levels of physical activity that exist between persons who suffer from sleep disorders and healthy individuals.


On the other hand, the majority of this research has come to the conclusion that people who have trouble sleeping are less active than people who have healthy sleep cycles. In example, those who suffer from various sleep problems have a lower likelihood of engaging in daytime physical activity. Adults who suffer from insomnia typically have less active lives than their counterparts who do not suffer from insomniaThis is also true for persons who have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and other forms of sleep-disordered breathing, but obesity may also be a concern for this section of the population.


According to the findings of a few pieces of research, the nightly fluctuations in sleep quality, latency, and efficiency can be utilized to accurately forecast levels of physical activity. One study, for instance, discovered that a one-minute reduction in the amount of time spent exercising the following day was connected with a thirty-minute increase in the amount of time spent sleeping the previous night.


It's also possible that a person has a preference for doing things in the morning or the evening. People who are "morning people" or "early risers" are more likely to engage in physical exercise than those who are more active in the evening or who sleep later. This is because people who are "morning people" tend to be more alert and productive in the morning. In point of fact, a number of studies have demonstrated that exercise has the potential to fundamentally change an individual's preference for the hours of the day that they are most active, and may even affect their circadian rhythms.


Although a number of studies conducted up to this point have demonstrated a connection between high-quality sleep and healthy levels of physical activity, the research conducted up to this point has not provided convincing evidence that improved sleep quality leads to an increase in levels of physical activity.


The takeaway from this is that getting a healthy amount of sleep each night can help you feel more rested and more motivated to exercise the following day; however, healthy sleep on its own might not be enough to spontaneously change the amount of physical activity that you engage in or how often you engage in it.