Exercise your way to a better night's sleep

The connection between exercise and sleep is highly debated. People across the world are suffering from various types of sleep disorders, and a CDC report in 2017 showed that physical inactivity is a major reason for lack of sleep.


In the US alone, almost 35.2 percent of people face short sleepiness. It shows how critical the physical inactivity is linked to sleep deprivation of an average American. Contrarily, a 2015 SLEEP research concluded that physically demanding jobs could cause either short sleep or excess sleep.


Scientific studies have proved many times that regular excess sleep or short sleep can significantly deteriorate the health of an individual. Additionally, it can cause severe health issues from cancer to strokes. It is a known fact that sleeping disorders are also affecting an individual’s capacity to respond to various situations.


Thus, the quality of sleep is highly important for an individual and can influence his or her physical and mental health. Do you know what counts as healthy sleep? 


Healthy Sleep


The National Sleeping Foundation or NSF describes health and good quality sleep with a number of conditions.


  • You should have a regular sleeping pattern of seven to nine hours a day
  • After laying on the bed, you should fall asleep within 20 minutes
  • You should sleep continuously without waking up for a long period of time. 
  • Once you wake up, you should feel relaxed and refreshed
  • Your sleeping partner shouldn't notice any sleep disturbing actions or behavior while you sleep. These actions include snoring, restlessness, and pauses in breathing.
  • You should feel like you're in total control throughout the day while doing any activity, including being fully productive and alert during the work hours


If you are facing sleep disorders, some of these findings may help you address the issues with appropriate help.


Intense Workouts Produce Good Quality Sleep

A poll, Sleep in America in 2016 revealed that people who workout regularly get better quality sleep compared to couch potatoes. Interestingly, even while both groups showed the same quantity of sleep, the former got healthier sleep.

It means that your regular and intense workouts help you get sound sleep, even with lesser or same amount of time. Therefore, it is a wakeup call for inactive people to increase their physical activity and enjoy the benefits of quality and healthy sleep.


Interestingly, an NPR report confirms that a short, intense workout plan significantly impacts sleep quality. A regular workout for ten minutes by the non-exercisers will help them to improve the quality of sleep and mental acuity.


Positively Influences Sleep Apnea Conditions


Sleep apnea is viewed as a serious sleep disorder. Its intensity increases with weight and lack of physical activity. Exercise programs combining weight training and brisk walking reduce sleep apnea symptoms by 25 percent. Interestingly, surgical intervention is seen to have similar results.


Almost 44 percent of non-active people face the risk of sleep apnea. Only 19 percent of regular exercisers face almost similar risks. The writing is on the wall – if you want to reduce or eliminate sleep apnea and associated risks, start exercising.


Morning Workouts Produce Good Sleep


People with erratic work schedules often choose workout hours in accordance with their job schedule. For many people, especially who work graveyard shifts find difficulty to stick to a particular schedule.


However, multiple surveys reveal that your workout time is vital for sound sleep. In 2013, Runner’s World conducted a small study based on the time of workouts and found some interesting facts. They took a group of 20 adults and asked them to do a 30-minute workout at different times: at 7 a.m., 1 p.m., and 7 p.m.


The researchers then monitored the sleeping patterns of the subjects. People who exercised during mornings had fewer wake ups while sleeping at night time as compared to people who exercised during afternoons and evenings. Also, the morning exercisers showed lesser REM sleep – the lightest sleeping phase when we dream.


Regular Workouts Can Alleviate Restless Leg Syndrome


Restless Leg Syndrome or RLS is another major sleep disorder that can be relieved by regular workouts. People with RLS should go for a moderate, regular workout schedule to manage its symptoms. However, strenuous exercise is not an option for people with RLS as it can worsen the condition. Always consult your physician before devising a strenuous workout plan.


If you are struggling with RLS, ideally you can target a 30-60 minutes workout plan on a daily basis. However, you should concentrate on individualized plans based on what provides you best results. For instance, some people say they see better results with regular running between stairs and squats. Others find stretching calf muscles and running on grounds produce better results. The bottom-line is to create a workout plan that suits your body best.


What about Intense Workouts just before Sleep?


Many people choose nighttime exercise due to their work schedules. However, a significant percentage of people think that it can severely disrupt the quality of sleep.


Contrary to general belief, a study by Journal of Sleep Research concluded that late-night workouts do not cause any significant deterioration to the sleep quality. But, you should note that late-night exercisers exhibit higher heart rate during the initial three hours of sleep.


A large majority of people think that stimulating hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol keep people awake or disturb their sleep. Noam Tamir, the founder of TS Fitness studio, confirms that almost everyone showcases a drop in adrenalin and cortisol level within an hour of workout. It means that your body will be relaxed and will be ready for quality sleep post an intense workout.


Physical activity thus not only improves overall fitness, but it is also needed for good sleep quality. Even if the intense workout is not your cup of tea, brisk walking for two hours a week is sufficient to improve sleep quality. Happy Sleeping!


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