3 Proven Workouts for Better Sleep
Plain and simple: Adequate exercise can lead to better sleep.
While not exactly ground-breaking, you may also have heard that working out before bed is a huge no-no. This can actually hinder your sleep as opposed to helping it. So, where does this leave you when it comes to doing the right workouts for sleep?
We’ve got your back! In this article, we’ll dive into how you can move into a restful night. Below, we outline how exercise impacts your sleep and three proven workouts to help you ease into better sleep.
Let’s get to it.
How Does Exercise Affect Sleep?
Exercise and sleep are deeply connected.
The Sleep Foundation states that moderate to vigorous exercise improves sleep quality and a person’s ability to fall asleep quickly. Further, these same experts claim that physical activity during the day may help decrease daytime drowsiness or the need for a nap and sleep medications.
Then, there are the indirect impacts of exercise on sleep. 60% of sleep apnea cases are caused by obesity. And we know that sleep apnea can seriously disrupt one’s sleep quality, leading to daytime fatigue.
And get this: In a 2013 Sleep in America Poll, researchers saw that 76-83% of regular exercisers reported a good to fairly good quality of sleep.
Clearly, there’s something there when it comes to exercising regularly and quality sleep.
Yet, there is a time-cap on this.
While gentle exercise, involving stretching or yoga, is a-okay to perform before bed, an intense workout, like HIIT, cardio, or weights, is considered a no-go in the three hours leading up to bed.
Intense exercise increases your heart rate, adrenaline, and body temperature. These changes in the body can make it difficult to fall asleep. In fact, adrenaline and cortisol (the stress hormones) are often the reasons a person wakes up during the night.
In summary…. the best time to workout for sleep, specifically if you’re performing an intense workout, is any time during the day but three hours before bed. Reserve those hours leading up to your bedtime for relaxing activities or gentle movements that don’t elevate your heart rate.
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3 Workouts for Better Sleep
Alright, so what should you be doing for better sleep?
Workout #1: Strength Training
Strength training is associated with a lower amount of poor sleep. Thus, doing this activity during your daily workout might prove best if your ultimate goal is to get to sleep and stay asleep.
The best time to strength train falls between 11 am and 4 pm. Why? Because your body is most resilient to stress during this time and you’ve also had a chance to eat, meaning you’ll have the energy you need to help you lift.
That being said, it isn’t a big deal if you can’t fit this into your schedule. Going after work or before work is 100% acceptable. It’s all about making it happen rather than being perfect here.
Some exercises you can do include:
- Bench Presses
- Lat Pulldown
- Leg Press
- Overhead Press
- Tricep Pushdown
- Bicep Curl
Workout #2: Yoga Workout for Better Sleep
Yoga offers a gentle workout that doesn’t have to elevate your heart rate. In fact, you can perform a short stretching yoga routine. This can help you relax and ease into sleep.
Try this routine:
- Child’s Pose - Begin on all-fours. Bring your buttocks back to your heels and rest your head on the ground with your arms stretched out on the ground in front of you. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
- Cat & Cow - Begin on all-fours. Gently inhale, pull your belly in, arching your back, and bring your head between your arms. Exhale, and arch your back down, bringing your gaze upward. Repeat 5-10 times.
- Spinal Twist - Lay on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Cross your right leg over your left and allow your legs to fall to your left side. Spread your arms out wide, resting them on the ground, and turn your head to the right. Hold for 5-10 breaths, then repeat on the opposite side.
- Piriformis Stretch - Lay on your back with your knee bent and your feet flat. Cross your right ankle over your left thigh. Pull your left thigh toward you. You should feel a gentle stretch through your left buttocks. Hold for 5-10 breaths, then do the same on the other side.
- Foot Stretch - Sit on your shins. Curl your toes so that they are on the ground under your feet. Sit on your feet for 5-10 breaths. This can be a particularly intense stretch, so feel free to release sooner if needed.
Make sure to try this next: A Yin Yoga Flow for Ultimate Relaxation
Workout #3: Relaxation Exercise
Alright, so maybe you’re working out, but you’re still having a tough time relaxing. This “workout” is for you! These are two great before-bed exercises that you can do anywhere.
- The Breathing Exercise - Lay flat on your back. Rest one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest. Close your eyes. Bring all of your attention to the breath, and really focus on the rise and fall of your belly and chest. Try to fill it up fully with each breath. Do this for 5-10 minutes.
- The Body Scan - Lay in your bed or somewhere comfortable. Begin at your head and go through each body part, tightening the muscle groups, then releasing.
How to Sleep Better: Tips & Tricks
You’ve done all the workouts for sleep. But you’re still having trouble. Now, what?
Here are some more tips to help you get that slumber your body needs:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
- Ensure your room is quiet, dark, and cool.
- Avoid screens in the hour or two leading up to bed.
- Reserve your bed for sleeping only.
- Have a bedtime snack, such as a warm glass of milk, to help balance your blood sugar levels as you sleep and to avoid waking up during the night.
- Check your mattress and pillow. If you’re waking up sore in the middle of the night, it might be time for new ones!
Get The Sleep You Need!
If you’re still having trouble after implementing all the workouts for sleep and every tip you can find, it’s time to book an appointment with your doctor.
There might be something more at play here. And it’s definitely something you want to get to the bottom of. Sleep is so important for restoration, rejuvenation, and overall health. Make sure you’re getting enough of it!
Related article: Why Sleep is Just As Important As Healthy Eating & Exercise