Exercise Can Help You Sleep
Have you ever participated in a demanding physical activity such
as a day-long hike or bike ride? If so, you may have slept like a
log the night after and already know exercise can help you sleep.
It’s not just anecdotal though. There is plenty of scientific
evidence to back up the idea that getting some sort of exercise or
movement every day can improve your sleep.
Right now though, 25% of Americans are not getting the
recommended seven to eight hours of sleep every night required
for optimal functioning. So it seems that much of the population
could benefit from exercising each day.
How Exercise Can Help You Sleep
If you drink coffee or tea to stay awake each morning, the
caffeine in these drinks is blocking a chemical in the brain known
as adenosine. Adenosine is what makes you feel sleepy.
When engaged in physical activity, the brain produces more
adenosine. And the more intense and driven the activity, the
more adenosine is produced.
Furthermore, many people who regularly exercise follow a specific
schedule for working out. In doing so, they maintain their
circadian rhythm which dictates when it’s time to wake and sleep.
In essence, their workouts help the body understand a schedule.
In turn, they sleep better and with more consistency.
But just as much as exercise can help you sleep, so too does
sleep help you to exercise.
Better Sleep Makes Exercise Easier
When we’re children and teenagers our bodies naturally produce
growth hormones to help build lean muscle and repair the body.
They are essential for athletic recovery. But as we age, production of these hormones wanes. And the primary way they
are restored is through getting enough rest.
If that’s not happening, exercise feels much more challenging.
While lack of sleep won’t impact your respiratory or
cardiovascular responses or muscle strength, you will fatigue
faster, have a harder time reaching maximum output, and likely
experience sorer muscles and increased risk of injury.
By not giving your body the time it needs to recover, conserve
energy, and repair any muscles worked during exercise, you’re
jeopardizing your workout. So sleep and exercise have a very symbiotic relationship.
Somatic Exercises to Help You Relax
Another way that movement can help with sleep is through
somatic exercises. Somatic exercises are any type of movement
or physical activity that is performed gently and intentionally.
They ask you to pay attention to the body and where you’re
holding stress and tension. Mindful practices such as yoga and
Pilates incorporate some somatic movements.
One of the most widely known relaxation exercises is a great
example of somatic movement. Laying on your back,
systematically begin clenching and releasing each muscle group
in the body -starting at the head and moving down to the toes.
This way of moving the muscles decreases tension in the body
and mind and can lead to better sleep.
Another example of a somatic exercise would be a spontaneous
“dance party.” Take a little break from your busy day to allow
your body to just dance and move in alignment with your feelings.
Just as with the muscle clenching and releasing, it may not be
hardcore exercise, but it will help you to connect your mind and
body and quiet some of the chatter in the brain that may keep
you up at night.
Is There a Best Time to Exercise?
Somatic exercises can be done any time. With a wide range of
different movements, some of them can even be performed in
bed to help lead you into sleep.
As far as more conventional exercises, some believe that working
out at night will keep you awake longer. While super high
intensity exercise has been shown to delay the onset of sleep
because of increased heart rate, there are other forms of exercise
that can be bene”cial in the evening.
Once again, yoga and Pilates make this list.
These low to moderate intensity workouts can actually help to
soothe pre-sleep anxiety. But performing them in the morning is a
great way to start your day too. So it really just depends on your
own rhythms and what works for you
Interested in How Pilates Could Improve Your Sleep?
Whether you’re ready to hop on the reformer the first thing in the morning or take a gentle mat Pilates class in the evening, this form of movement and exercise can help you sleep.
So if you’d like to explore this amazing system of movement,
contact us today. We not only offer Pilates classes, but Pilates- based physical therapy as well.
We can address what ails you!