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Exercise Improves Sleep Quality – Fact or Myth?

A good night’s sleep, after a long day, is what all of us long for. Many of us, however, do not get enough sleep due to various reasons. Statistics show that nearly 30% of the population in the country suffers from insomnia, which is staggering, to say the least.

Sleep deprivation is a critical issue, as lack of sleep affects your productivity, makes you feel tired throughout the day, and could lead to accidents in the workplace and on the road. It also makes you vulnerable to a host of health problems in the long run. Simply put, it is not an issue you can afford to take lightly.

Fortunately, a tried and tested solution for sleep deprivation is available in the form of physical exercise.

The Impact of Exercise on Sleep

Exercise and Insomnia

Studies show that physical exercise can be very beneficial to those who suffer from insomnia and can help them get a good night’s sleep. It improves sleep quality as well as duration, as a result of which you feel well rested in the morning. Those who exercise on a fairly regular basis are less likely to have sleep problems, which means they are also less likely to experience daytime tiredness.

Exercise and Sleep Apnea

Exercise can be beneficial for those who suffer from sleep apnea as well. It is a condition in which you stop breathing for a minute or two in your sleep. People who suffer from this disorder are likely to be overweight or obese, so they are generally advised to lose weight by dieting. What is surprising, however, is that studies show that exercise alone can reduce the symptoms and severity of sleep apnea by up to 25%, even if the person is not dieting.

Exercise and Restless Legs Syndrome

Restless Legs Syndrome is yet another disorder whose symptoms can be reduced with the help of regular physical exercise. The disorder causes you to move your legs, often involuntarily, at night, which disrupts your sleep.

Exercise and Stress

Stress and anxiety related issues are major causes of sleep deprivation in many people and experts say that physical exercise is quite possibly the best natural solution to the problem. Physical activity produces endorphins in your brain – a type of chemicals that act as natural painkillers and also elevate your mood. It has a two-pronged effect. Mentally, you feel better as your stress levels are under control. Physically, you feel tired, as a result of which you are able to sleep soundly.

Exercise and Sleep – The Facts You Need to Know

  • Regular exercise can help you reset your sleep-wake cycle. While you exercise, your body temperature increases slightly. After a while, it drops and a few hours later, you feel sleepy. This is why it is said that exercising in the morning or afternoon can help you enjoy a good night’s sleep.
  • It does not, however, mean that you should not exercise in the evening. Exercising at night does not have the same effect on everyone. If you feel that exercising a couple of hours before bedtime helps you sleep better, do so by all means.
  • Exercise might not always promote deep sleep. In some cases, it might promote light sleep. Still, people who exercise are more likely to get restful sleep than those who do not.
  • The most important point to be noted here is that exercise – in this context – does not mean that you have to spend a couple of hours in the gym every day. Moderate physical activities like cycling, walking briskly on a treadmill, and climbing stairs are sufficient in most cases. Basically, any activity that increases your heart rate and has you sweating bullets in a few minutes is good for you and it is also the recipe for a good night’s sleep.