After a long day on the trail, I find it pretty easy to fall asleep. I used to walk into my house, get a glass of water, hop in the tub, and take a long bath before going to bed. It helped relax my muscles, my mind, and my body. I usually tried to read a book while I was in the tub, also, so I could stay alert and not fall asleep. I find showering after exercising relaxing, too, and it prepares me to go to sleep. The days that I exercise, I have no problem whatsoever going to sleep.
How Exercise and Sleeping are Related
The Centers for Disease Control recommends that the average adult exercises for 30 minutes a day and sleeps for 7 hours a night. Exercise and sleep are directly correlated to one another. Exercising even 30 minutes a day can provide a better night's sleep. Exercise improves sleep at night, and reduces daytime tiredness.
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How Exercise Improves Sleep
Individuals with insomnia benefit from exercising because of the hormones released in the brain. In "Moving to Create Energy," the hormones released during exercise were discussed. Those same hormones improve sleep by reducing anxiety and stress often associated with insomnia. Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. Issues with sleep apnea are also reduced with exercise, even without weight loss. Sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing is obstructed throughout the night. Oxygen levels are altered throughout the night. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including being overweight, alcohol use, smoking, being male, or age. In recent studies, exercise has demonstrated an improvement in oxygen consumption during sleep, quality of sleep, and reduced daytime sleepiness.
When to Exercise to Sleep Better
Any time of day that you choose to exercise is a good time. Some individuals may have a harder time falling asleep if they exercise one to two hours before bedtime. This is because their hormone levels, heart rate, and core body temperature are increased. If you experience difficulty sleeping after exercising late in the day, you may wish to exercise earlier or end your exercise routine at least two hours before going to bed, according to John Hopkins Medicine. Nonetheless, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine says that exercising any time of day for at least 30 minutes a day can help you sleep at night. The bonus that accompanies exercise and sleep is that you can experience the benefits relatively quickly without having to wait weeks or months to see results.