Exercises for Better Sleep

If you’re having trouble sleeping, you might just not be using your body enough to get tired.  This is typical American behavior, especially in the northeast where the stress and exhaustion of the work day or week leaves many wanting to relax after 5 pm.  

Many people will find themselves relaxing for a few hours, but then when it’s time for sleep, have a hard time getting a good night’s rest.  It might seem counterintuitive, but even though you are drained from a long day, the best way to get better sleep, and feel less stressed the following day, is to push through and get some more exercise. 

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Exercise can promote deeper sleep, which allows you to wake up rested and refreshed, giving you more energy for the following day’s work and workout.  We understand you are tired, but if you are still tossing and turning at night – your body may not be tired enough.  Expending more energy throughout your day, through whatever type of exercise that works best for you can help put an end to this. Here are some ways to use exercise to get better sleep.

1. Increase your cardio:

Cardio, or aerobic exercise, is the kind of exercise that gets your heart going and increases your breathing rate.  Cardio includes, running, biking, and swimming.  Cardio has been shown to clear stress hormones, relieve anxiety and positively affect sleep. The body compensates for the physical exertion of a cardio workout by spending more time in deeper, and sounder sleep to recover. 

2. Exercise after work:

Clearly this is the most difficult time of the day to get motivated, after an early rise and a whole day at work.   Exercising at this time however, can give you a surge of energy during a time you would typically be most lazy and use up unspent energy to get you prepped for a deeper sleep later at night.   Research has also shown that exercise after work increases the body temperature, allowing it to regulate down to the perfect temperature to make you sleepy before bed.   Just make sure that you exercise at least 3-4 hours before you try to get to sleep in order to allow yourself enough time to relax and come down off the energy boost before bed. 

3. Increase your daily activity:

If you have trouble getting to sleep at night, you may not be getting enough activity or using enough energy throughout the day.   Most nine to five desk jobs force us to stay sedentary for most of the day, so this comes to no surprise.  Increasing activity doesn’t necessarily mean hitting the gym.  There are easy ways to get more active in your daily routine, and use up excess energy that could be keeping you awake in bed at night.  Stretching during the day, walking to or from work, or using the stairs instead of the elevator might be all you need to see some positive changes in your sleep patterns. 

4. Try some yoga before bed:

Certain resting or inversion yoga poses can relieve muscle tension throughout the body and release stress for better sleep.  These soothing exercises are especially conducive to relaxation and sleep when done at night or in bed before checking out for the night.  Focusing on deep breathing, trying some seated or standing forward bends, or a simple corpse pose can combat restlessness and ease you into better sleep.