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Mar 18, 2015

Can't Sleep? Try exercising frequently

Can't Sleep? Try exercising frequently

Many of us face challenges when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep. If you toss and turn in bed and have trouble falling asleep, there’s relief at hand: Studies show that regular exercise can help you fall sleep more quickly and stay asleep all night!

Exercising during the day can influence how you sleep during the night. For one thing, if you are physically active throughout the day, then it’s easier for your body to enter into a state of relaxation at night. But there’s more: Exercising regularly will help you go to sleep faster and maintain a sleeping state, by forcing your sleeping cycles to become consistent

Research indicates that it’s best to exercise three to four hours before going to bed at night. That means that to optimise your sleep benefits, you should be physically active late in the afternoon or early in the evening.

Here are some ways that exercise relates to and enhances sleep.

1. Relief

Exercise relieves feelings of anxiety and loosens the muscles that are tightened with stress.

2. Regular is best

Regular exercise enables you to sleep more quickly and stay asleep all night. It creates a balance between your REM and non-REM sleep cycles. REM refers to rapid eye movement and is characterised by dreams. Non-REM refers to deep sleep, where you do not dream. The balance of these cycles is necessary for a good quality of sleep.

3. Exercise earlier

Don’t exercise before bedtime – it will energize you. Instead, exercise early in the evening, at least three to four hours before your regular bedtime

4. Do the 20-30/3-4 rule

Aim for physical exercise 20-30 minutes daily, three to four times per week, minimum. Aerobic exercises are best – walking, jogging or running — because they enhance blood circulation, raise your heart rate and improve breathing.

5. Try Tai Chi.

Tai Chi uses slow movements and breathing, which older people may find more suitable. A study done by the University of California, Los Angeles revealed that tai chai helps to improve the quality and duration of sleep.

6. Try Yoga

Yoga merges deep breathing techniques with poses that relax the mind and the body. It is particularly helpful if your insomnia is related to stress. One particular type of yoga that is good for sleep is yoga nidra.

7. Chunk Up

If you can’t exercise for 30 minutes straight, divide your exercise into chunks of 10 minutes three times a day, or two chunks of 15 minutes daily. Small things help like using the stairs instead of the elevator, parking far from your office so that you will have to walk longer distances to get there, and mixing in arm exercises and other minor but healthy body and leg movements while you are on the computer will also be helpful.

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