Importance of Exercise to Improve Sleep Quality

By Michelle Ishio (Resident Post Pregnancy Rehab Specialist and Fitness Expert)

Nightly sleep for the average American has dropped to 6.9 hours, with 1/3 of adults now getting even less than that. Although most experts agree that the average adult needs eight hours, most of us don't get nearly that amount on a regular basis.

It's easy to simply say "get more sleep", but it's important to understand that sleep is not a passive activity, and it requires conscious effort for many of us to get not just more hours of sleep, but also good quality sleep.

Healthy sleep is just as valuable to your overall well-being as exercise and good nutrition. Research shows that a lack of deep sleep weakens the body's ability to fight off disease and manage stress. Also, if you’re not getting enough deep sleep, you body's ability to balance or re-set hormones will be hampered, which can contribute to other health issues.. According to the NSF, constant sleepiness can reduce the quality and quantity of your work by at least 1/3. Sleep deprived individuals are also known to being more accident prone.

If you’re having significant problems in your sleep life, you probably should seek consultation by a professional. For the rest of us who are having trouble sleeping, the simple cure would be consistent exercise. One of the most homeopathic ways to improve sleep is with exercise, and it's "side affect" is improved physical health, and a nicer physique.

Exercising regularly promotes improved sleep quality by supporting smoother transitions between the phases of sleep. Moderate exercise lasting 20 to 30 minutes three or four times a week generally results in better sleep.

Find your own exercise rhythm, as in, some people can exercise any time, while others can stay more consistent or motivated in the mornings or right after work, the only consideration to have is to not exercise right before bedtime. Exercising right before bedtime will have your body too alert to want to go to sleep right away.

When participating in vigorous exercise during the day, that will help you fall asleep and stay asleep more easily, and will increase the amount of time you spend in deepest sleep phase.

Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine asked adults to exercise 20-30 minutes every other day in the afternoon by walking, engaging in low-impact aerobics, or riding a stationary bicycle. The result showed that these adults required half the time to fall asleep than before the consistent exercising.

Since exercise reduces stress and eases built-up muscular tension, those symptoms won't get in as much way for your attempt to fall and stay asleep. Exercise offers many other benefits that will also in turn help get and keep you to sleep; It also increases your production of endorphins, (which create a sense of well-being), stimulates the release of epinephrine, (a hormone that creates a sense of happiness and increases deep sleep).

Remember, sleep is just as important as nutrition and exercising...and by exercising to get better sleep, you get a two for one benefit!

Happy exercising and Happy sleeping!

Michelle's Fit Club