Exercises to Sleep Better, Week of March 18, 2010

Posted on 14. Mar, 2010 by in Exercises

Exercise to Combat Sleeplessness

Those who lead more sedentary lives are likely to be poor sleepers. The lack of physical activity can contribute to lack of sound sleep by inhibiting the daily rise and fall of the body-temperature rhythm.  As a result, many people get caught in a cycle of insomnia, reduced energy and physical activity, and worsened insomnia.

Exercise improves sleep by producing a significant rise in body temperature, followed by a compensatory drop a few hours later. The drop in body temperature, which persists for two to four hours after exercise, makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. So plan to exercise at least 6-7 hours before your bedtime.

The exercise you choose should involve vigorous use of your legs for it to help you sleep. The fatigue produced by [using leg muscles] acts as a tranquilizer.

Aerobic exercises are the best to combat sleeplessness. These exercises increase the amount of oxygen that reaches the blood. Examples of aerobic exercises are: jogging, swimming, riding a bicycle, jumping rope, dancing, riding a stationary bicycle, using a treadmill, and walking. A mild workout for fifteen to twenty minutes a day, four days a week, will be enough for you to feel the benefits. Stretch before and after you do anything vigorous. Allow yourself a cool-down period after exercising, before you stretch.

For many people, the ideal time to exercise is early in the morning. But for combating insomnia or inability to sleep more than 7 hours per night, the best time to exercise is at the end of the afternoon or in the early evening. If possible, however, avoid exercise in the late evening or just before going to bed. Exercise is stimulating to the body. It can take quite a while for your muscles and circulation system to calm down again after a vigorous workout.

Mild, non-aerobic exercise may help you unwind at the end of the day. Take a leisurely walk breathing deeply and allowing yourself to respond to the physical sensation of being outside.

Gentle dancing to pleasant music can help you lift your mood and relax your body. Yoga and stretching exercises are good ways to wind down.

Try some of these tips for a week and see if you sleep better and longer!  Good night, sleep tight!

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