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How Exercise Can Help Us Sleep Better

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Things To Remember Before Getting Started

Does exercise help decrease insomnia?

Although there are a number of breathing exercises you can try to relax and fall asleep, a few basic principles apply to all of them.

Its always a good idea to close your eyes, which may help you shut out distractions. Focus on your breathing and think about the healing power of your breath.

Each of these nine different exercises has slightly different benefits. Try them and see which one is the best match for you.

Soon youll be sleeping like a baby.

Heres how to practice the 4-7-8 breathing technique:

  • Allow your lips to gently part.
  • Exhale completely, making a breathy whoosh sound as you do.
  • Press your lips together as you silently inhale through the nose for a count of 4 seconds.
  • Hold your breath for a count of 7.
  • Exhale again for a full 8 seconds, making a whooshing sound throughout.
  • Repeat 4 times when you first start. Eventually work up to 8 repetitions.
  • Dr. Andrew Weil developed this technique as a variation of pranayama, an ancient yogic technique that helps people relax as it replenishes oxygen in the body.

    These steps will help you perform the original Bhramari pranayama breathing exercise:

  • Close your eyes and breathe deeply in and out.
  • Cover your ears with your hands.
  • Place your index fingers one each above your eyebrows and the rest of your fingers over your eyes.
  • Next, put gentle pressure to the sides of your nose and focus on your brow area.
  • Keep your mouth closed and breathe out slowly through your nose, making the humming Om sound.
  • Protecting Bone With Strength Training

    Strength or resistance training, such as elastic-band workouts and the use of weight machines or free weights, is important for building muscle and protecting bone.

    Bones lose calcium and weaken with age, but strength training can help slow or sometimes even reverse this trend. Not only can strength training make you look and feel better, but it can also result in better performance of everyday activities, such as climbing stairs and carrying bundles. Stronger muscles also mean better mobility and balance, and thus a lower risk of falling and injuring yourself. In addition, more lean body mass aids in weight control because each pound of muscle burns more calories than its equivalent in fat.

    Protect Your Sleep Need To Reap The Full Benefits Of Exercise

    When designing your exercise routine, keep in mind that there are few gains without sleep.

    Just as your body needs exercise to stay healthy, it also requires rest to help your muscles bounce back from physical activity. This is where the human growth hormone is necessary to your workout goals.

    Scientific evidence indicates that GH production peaks during deep sleep and may last for 1.5-3.5 hours. Interruptions to deep sleep could deprive your body of the chance to fully repair and recover. Moreover, a later bedtime delays peak GH secretion â all the more reason to hit the sack early.

    Thus, meeting your sleep need is crucial to maintaining optimal muscle health and lowering the risk of exercise-induced injuries.

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    Why Is Physical Activity Important

    Exercise and physical activity are good for just about everyone, including older adults. No matter your health and physical abilities, you can gain a lot by staying active. In fact, studies show that taking it easy is risky. Often, inactivity is more to blame than age when older people lose the ability to do things on their own. Lack of physical activity also can lead to more visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations, and more use of medicines for a variety of illnesses.

    Including all 4 types of exercise can benefit a wide range of areas of your life. Staying active can help you:

    • Keep and improve your strength so you can stay independent
    • Have more energy to do the things you want to do and reduce fatigue
    • Improve sleep
    • Empower you to feel more in control

    In addition, exercise and physical activity may possibly improve or maintain some aspects of cognitive function, such as your ability to shift quickly between tasks, plan an activity, and ignore irrelevant information.

    Here are some exercise ideas to help you lift your mood:

    Does Exercising For At Least 30 Minutes Daily Improve Sleep Quality

    Exercise for a Better Sleep

    Yes, moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes daily improves sleep quality. Simple exercises such as brisk walking, biking, jogging, or swimming promote sleep. Choose an exercise you enjoy, because you are more likely to be consistent about it. Consistency is key in reaping the benefits of exercises.

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    The Timing Of Exercise May Matter

    Some people may find that exercising close to bedtime seems to keep them up at night, says Gamaldo. How does working out affect the mind?

    • Aerobic exercise causes the body to release endorphins. These chemicals can create a level of activity in the brain that keeps some people awake. These individuals should exercise at least 1 to 2 hours before going to bed, giving endorphin levels time to wash out and the brain time to wind down, she says.
    • Exercise also raises your core body temperature. The effect of exercise in some people is like taking a hot shower that wakes you up in the morning, says Gamaldo. Elevation in core body temperature signals the body clock that its time to be awake. After about 30 to 90 minutes, the core body temperature starts to fall. The decline helps to facilitate sleepiness.

    Despite these biological responses to exercise, other people find that the time of day they exercise doesnt make a difference. Whether its in the early morning or close to bedtime, theyll see a benefit to their sleep, says Gamaldo. Know your body and know yourself, she says. Doctors definitely want you to exercise, but when you do it is not scripted.

    Whats The Best Time Of Day To Exercise

    The best time of day is the time that suits you. If youve got time and energy before work, do it then. Easier after work? Thats cool too. Prefer working out late at night? Go for it. The best way to make exercise a regular part of your daily routine is to make it fit in with your lifestyle. And the best part is that no matter what time you do it, itll help you to sleep better.

    But I thought exercising at night was bad for sleep?

    This myth has officially been busted. Research has found that exercising in the evening doesnt negatively impact your sleep .

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    Why Exercise Helps Us Sleep Betterand Vice Versa

    Regular exercise is profoundly beneficial to your sleep. People who exercise regularly report better sleep quality than those who dont. Physical activity can increase the amount of time we spend in deep sleep, the most restorative sleep stage. Fitness can also reduce sleep onset time, allowing you to fall asleep faster once your head hits the pillow. Exercise increases sleep duration, boosting the number of hours you are able to sleep and decreasing the time spent lying awake in the middle of the night.

    Sleep and exercise have a bidirectional relationship. Based on the available data, researchers theorize that poor sleep may be a key impediment to achieving a physically active lifestyle, and a good nights sleep can help you feel more motivated to take on a workout the next day. Those with insomnia and sleep disorders, as well as some people who sleep poorly, are less active and less likely to exercise during the day.

    Alternatively, better quality, longer sleep could improve your workout or athletic performance, like it did for Stanford University basketball players. It is important to note that though studies have established a relationship between good sleep and healthy physical activity levels, the current research has not yet conclusively proven that better sleep directly leads to an increase in physical activity in all cases.

    Try Aromatherapy Before Bed

    How Breathing Exercises Can Help Anxiety

    Aromatherapy is another valuable sleep tool that shouldn’t be overlooked. The soothing scent of certain essential oils has been scientifically proven to positively affect sleep.

    Lavender is perhaps one of the most well-studied essential oils for sleep, and with good reason. Numerous studies show that lavender can induce a state of relaxation, helping the user fall and stay asleep. A recent study also found that the aroma of lavender may enhance slow-wave sleep.

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    Improves Sleep Duration And Quality

    Intense physical activity requires you to expend energy. It fatigues your body, reducing your sleep latency. Sleep latency refers to the time it takes you to fall asleep once you are in bed and the lights are off. When you exercise consistently, you usually get sleep as soon as you lie down, and you get a much needed 7 to 8 hours of rest.

    Exercise also promotes deep sleep phases, the most restorative sleep stages. During these slow-wave sleep phases, you are less likely to wake up due to disruptions. This improves your sleep quality. The deep sleep phases boost your immune system, cardiac health, and muscle repair and regeneration.

    Body Temperature And Exercise

    Body temperature and the brains sleep-wake cycle appear to be closely linked, so understanding your bodys temperature changes can help you figure out how to get more rem sleep.The increase in body temperature during late-afternoon exercise, followed by the drop in body temperature that accompanies sleep onset, may be one reason why sleep occurs more easily alongside regular physical activity. Exercise also eases muscular tension, reduces stress, and increases the bodys production of endorphins, which in turn creates a sense of well-being. This overall sense of ease may help you sleep better.

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    Easing Back Pain With Flexibility Exercises

    Stretching or flexibility training is the third prong of a balanced exercise program. Muscles tend to shorten and weaken with age. Shorter, stiffer muscle fibers make you vulnerable to injuries, back pain, and stress. But regularly performing exercises that isolate and stretch the elastic fibers surrounding your muscles and tendons can counteract this process. And stretching improves your posture and balance.

    Exercise Helps You Sleep

    Exercise can help kids sleep better and reduce stress. # ...

    Sept. 17, 2010 — Running to the medicine cabinet or to doctors for sleeping pills may be one way to battle chronic insomnia, but aerobic exercise might be the best prescription, new research indicates.

    Scientists at Northwestern University say sleep problems affect millions of adults, who could likely improve their quality of sleep, vitality, and mood with regular aerobic exercise.

    The researchers say the study is the first to examine the effect of aerobic exercise on insomnia in middle-aged and older adults. About 50% of people middle-aged and older complain of symptoms of chronic insomnia.

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    How Can I Get A Better Nights Sleep

    Sleeping well directly affects your mental and physical health. Fall short and it can take a serious toll on your daytime energy, productivity, emotional balance, and even your weight. Yet many of us regularly toss and turn at night, struggling to get the sleep we need.

    Getting a good nights sleep may seem like an impossible goal when youre wide awake at 3 a.m., but you have much more control over the quality of your sleep than you probably realize. Just as the way you feel during your waking hours often hinges on how well you sleep at night, so the cure for sleep difficulties can often be found in your daily routine.

    Unhealthy daytime habits and lifestyle choices can leave you tossing and turning at night and adversely affect your mood, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and weight. But by experimenting with the following tips, you can enjoy better sleep at night, boost your health, and improve how you think and feel during the day.

    How Exercise Helps You Sleep

    It has been proven, time after time, that an increase in exercise does have a positive effect on your sleep. Increasing how active you are in day to day life will not only improve how long you sleep, but also how well you sleep. Regular exercise is a great way to encourage deep sleep and this means each night you stack up more hours of slumber.

    Regular exercise has so many positive effects on your lifestyle, which in turn make you sleep better. Finding a physical activity that you enjoy, and will keep doing time after time will lift your mood and reduce stress levels. Who can honestly say they haven’t stayed awake late at night due to stress, only to suffer the next day from exhaustion. It can become a bit of a vicious cycle. Making sure you find time for you to de-stress before bed, whether that’s going for a run or spending 30 minutes doing yoga, these exercises, will improve sleep and reduce stress.

    Exercise is also known to have amazing results for other sleep conditions like snoring and restless leg syndrome.

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    Regular Exercise Has Many Health Benefits

    A regular exercise routine can help most people to sleep better.

    According to the Sleep Foundation, studies have shown that those who experience chronic insomnia and begin regular exercise can both fall asleep up to 13 minutes faster and stay asleep for 18 minutes longer.

    The organization said exercise causes a change in a person’s core body temperature, mimicking a similar temperature change that happens before a person falls asleep.

    In addition, exercise may help to realign a person’s internal body clock depending on the time of day a person exercises as well as relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression that can hamper good sleep.

    Ten to 15% of adults suffer from chronic insomnia, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

    While researchers continue to work to understand how physical activity impacts sleep, some forms of exercise are reportedly better than others in preventing insomnia.

    Sleep is a key part of a healthy living

    The Sleep Foundation says studies have found that regular aerobic exercise for prolonged periods of time can improve the quality of sleep and moderate-intensity aerobic activities can decrease the severity of sleep-disordered breathing conditions like sleep apnea.

    The foundation also notes that some studies suggest moderate-intensity aerobic exercise may improve sleep quality more than vigorous-intensity activities.

    Helping More Than Insomnia

    How can exercise and good sleep work together to create better health?

    Theres more good news for the 18 million Americans who struggle with sleep apnea, a dangerous disorder in which you temporarily stop breathing for up to a minute during the night. Exercise can help with that, too.

    For sleep apnea, exercise has always been recommended, Kline said, mostly to jump-start weight loss from dieting, because those with sleep apnea are normally overweight or obese. But we did a study where the participants didnt diet, and exercise alone led to a 25% reduction of sleep apnea symptoms over a 12-week period.

    Exercise has also been shown to help with restless-leg symptoms across all age groups, Youngstedt said. Restless leg syndrome, a disorder of the nervous system, occurs when the legs or other parts of the body like the arms or face itch, burn or move involuntarily. The irresistible urge to move often happens at night, which disrupts sleep.

    Finding a safe, healthy avenue of treatment for sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea and restless legs is critical, these experts say, because disturbed sleep is a key risk factor for diseases and unhealthy conditions such as stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.

    There is large amount of literature showing that people who exercise have better sleep, Baron said. People who exercise reported an increase in deep sleep and a decrease in the number of awakenings. Plus, people felt less depressed, and their mood was better.

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    Sleep Helps Mental Health Too

    âBy improving a personâs sleep, you can improve their physical and mental health,â she says. âSleep is a barometer of health, like someoneâs temperature. If a person says he or she isnât sleeping well, we know they are more likely to be in poor health, with problems managing their hypertension or diabetes.â

    The exercise and sedentary groups were told that good sleep hygiene can be improved by sleeping in a cool, dark, and quiet room going to bed at the same time every night and not staying in bed too long if you canât fall asleep.

    Zee says that exercise is good for metabolism, weight management, and cardiovascular health. Physical exertion is also good for sleep, according to the study.

    âThe increase in self-reported sleep duration by 1.25 hours in the exercise plus sleep hygiene education group is higher than what has been reported for other non-pharmacological interventions for insomnia,â the authors write.

    The study is published in the October issue of the journal Sleep Medicine.

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    How Does Exercise Help Treat Insomnia

    Studies have shown that in as little as four weeks, individuals with chronic insomnia who begin regular exercise can fall asleep up to 13 minutes faster and stay asleep 18 minutes longer. In fact, study authors found that exercise was just as effective as hypnotic drugs in relieving insomnia. Researchers have a few theories why this might be the case.

    While researchers are still working to understand exactly how physical activity affects sleep, theyve found that moderate aerobic exercise is the most effective at relieving insomnia. Specifically, moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of time you spend in deep sleep. Deep sleep is the stage where your body restores and replenishes itself, healing your muscles and tissues to prepare for more exercise.

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