About 11% of Americans report not getting enough sleep every night. The result is low energy levels, decreased productivity, mental fog, and an increased risk of health conditions.
Not getting enough sleep also affects mood, making you more irritable and stressed. Luckily, you can do a few things to improve your sleep quality. One of them is exercise. Here are five ways that exercise can help improve your sleep.
Exercise Helps You Lose Weight
If you’ve had sleep apnea testing and it came back positive, one of the things you need to know is that excess weight can exacerbate the condition. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your throat muscles relax and block your airway.
Losing weight reduces this risk by strengthening throat muscles and improving their ability to keep the airways open during sleep. In turn, this reduces episodes of apnea and improves sleep quality.
Regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing other sleep disorders such as insomnia and restless leg syndrome. These conditions can severely disrupt your sleep quality and leave you feeling tired during the day.
Also, note that obesity increases daytime drowsiness and fatigue, forcing you to take more naps. Daytime naps keep you awake at night.
Not to mention, keeping your weight in a healthy range controls other lifestyle conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol levels. These diseases can also affect sleep quality.
Exercise Regulates Your Body’s Natural Sleep Rhythm
Regular exercise helps keep your body’s natural sleep rhythm regulated. This is because exercise releases hormones that make you feel sleepy and tired. It also helps to tire your body out physically, so you’re more likely to fall asleep faster and stay asleep throughout the night.
Exercise Reduces Stress and Anxiety Levels
Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and anxiety levels. When you’re stressed or anxious, it’s more challenging to fall and stay asleep. Exercise calms your mind and releases tension that keeps you awake at night.
Additionally, exercise releases endorphins that give you energy and make you feel happy. This is why after a good workout, you often feel more energetic and less stressed. Increased energy levels can help you stay awake during the day and get a better night’s sleep.
Exercise Helps You Fall Asleep Faster and Sleep Through the Night
The more active you are throughout the day, the more physically tired you become at night. Try to exercise in the morning or before noon to avoid feeling restless at night.
Restlessness results from a raised body temperature, making you stay awake and alert longer. It means that going to bed immediately after an exercise routine keeps you up longer.
Exercise Increases Oxygen to the Brain
Oxygen is an essential factor in sleep quality. When you’re asleep, your brain works hard to circulate oxygen throughout your body. The circulation flushes out toxins and accumulated waste, improving sleep quality.
Exercise promotes better blood circulation, bringing more oxygenated blood to the brain. More oxygenated blood in your brain keeps you asleep for longer, waking you up feeling more refreshed and rejuvenated.
Exercise increases oxygen levels in the entire body as well. For example, it stimulates the body’s release of nitric oxide, a gas that widens blood vessels to deliver more oxygen to muscles.
Adopt a Regular Exercise Routine to Improve Sleep Quality
As you wind down for the night, keep in mind that a good workout might be just what you need to get a good night’s sleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping, consult a professional to see if exercise might be the answer to your problems.
It also pays to avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, and energy drinks before bedtime. These can keep you awake at night, disrupting your sleep-wake cycle.