Sleep and exercise have a bidirectional relationship. In other words, regular exercise can help improve your sleep quality and duration, and in return, getting adequate sleep better promotes physical activity throughout the day.
Studies have shown that moderate to vigorous exercise can increase sleep quality for adults by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep, as well as decreasing the amount of time they lie awake in bed during the night. Being active in life or having a labour-intensive job, may not produce the same sleep result due to musculoskeletal aches and pains, as well as stress and fatigue (also known as the physical activity paradox). Establishing a regular structured exercise program is important.
Exercise is good for sleep
Data from survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation of America overwhelmingly supported the suggestion that “Exercise is good for sleep”. With participants ranging from the ages of 23 and 60, roughly 76-83% who engaged in light, moderate, or vigorous exercise reported very good or fairly good sleep quality. For those who didn’t exercise, this figure dropped to 56%.
Should you exercise directly before bed?
There are several conflicting studies on this topic, however, most agree that as long as the exercise is not of a vigorous in nature, it should not affect sleep time and efficiency. Certain exercises may actually be more beneficial to sleep than others. For example, light yoga, breathing exercises and mobility stretches can help with pain management prior to sleep.
It’s important to recognise that you should base your exercise times and intensity on what best suits your sleep schedule, and no one else’s. Recognise all the of the variables that can affect your sleep. Paying attention to how you slept after that exercise, food or experience is important so that we can create a healthy and sustainable sleep routine that’s conducive to restful sleep.
If you’re a veteran or family member who needs help with an exercise plan for better sleep be sure to contact one of our Mates4Mates Exercise Physiologists today.
Written by Lauren Kelly, Exercise Physiologist