On the surface, a day at the gym and a night of sleep don’t seem all that related. But, these two seemingly divergent activities are, in fact, very connected. Sleep and fitness share a special bond that works to keep you healthy and feeling good. Read below to learn about the connection between these two functions and their role in your life.
Sleep And Exercise: Keys To Optimal Health
Good sleep and regular exercise are important for your mental and physical health. Before digging into how the two are related, let’s take a look at the part each plays in your health.
The Importance Of Proper Sleep
Getting restful sleep is extremely important. Sleep affects everything from your weight to your immune system. Plus, your sleep quality may have far-reaching effects on your energy levels. Sleep also helps regulate heart health and mood.1,2
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.3 During that time, you should experience a sleep cycle of four phases about every 90 minutes. It’s crucial to cycle through all four phases and experience REM sleep to gain the restorative power from those hours of sleep.4
The Relationship Between Sleep And Exercise
Research suggests a bidirectional relationship between sleep and exercise. In other words, sleep and exercise influence and rely on one another. As such, people who exercise may report better sleep than those who don’t exercise. And, often, people who don’t sleep well may lack the energy to workout.5
How Sleep Supports Physical Performance And Exercise
This relationship reveals itself in several ways. When you sleep, your body recovers from exercise. Deep sleep releases hormones that your body uses to repair tissues and muscles. This helps the body increase mass and build-up endurance.6
The release of growth hormone during deep sleep is another good example of this healing. A majority of growth hormones in adults are released during short wave sleep.7 This hormone influences bone and muscle health – which is crucial to recovery.8
On the other hand, those who don’t sleep enough may not always recover properly and could lack the energy to workout.9
How Exercise Supports Restful Sleep
Moderate aerobic exercise encourages slow-wave sleep at night. Your body and mind do their best recovering from the day’s activities during this period of deep sleep.10
Plus, exercise and physical activity create healthy chemical reactions in the body. One example is the release of adenosine. When this chemical gets to the brain, it actually helps make you feel sleepy.11
Regular exercise also helps with a variety of sleep issues. One study suggests that people who suffer from sleep deprivation and insomnia tend to sleep longer after regular exercise.12,13
Note: A single day of exercise may not instantly improve your sleep. The results of regular exercise can take a few months to take effect. However, a single night of poor sleep may have a negative effect on your next day workout.14
Ideas To Help Improve Sleep And Enhance Your Exercise
By making improvements to your sleep, you might be able to support your energy levels, mood and overall health.15 Then hopefully, you’ll feel more encouraged to exercise each day. Your body will thank you, especially when it’s time to go to bed.
Read on for some ideas on how to keep up the healthy rhythm between sleep and exercise.
Sleep Tracking With A Fitness Tracker Or Fitbit
Your Fitbit or fitness tracker isn’t only for the gym. These nifty gadgets can help provide you with useful information about your sleep. You can track things such as your total sleep time, disruptions in your sleep, and your sleep cycle.16
With a better understanding of your sleep rhythm, you can make lifestyle changes that could help support good sleep.17
Developing And Sticking To A Sleep Schedule
Studies show that sticking to a sleep schedule may help improve your chances of getting a full night of rest.18 As tempting as it may be to sleep in on weekends or days off, try to resist. Training your body when to wake up each day also means you are training it when to fall asleep.19
Try To Sit Less
People who sit less than eight hours each day may sleep better than those who sit for longer than eight.20 Try to stand when you have the chance. Take that next phone call while on a walk. Or, sneak in some steps at lunch. Anything that keeps you off the chair and sitting a little less will be helpful.
Your Most Important Exercise Of The Day: Bedtime
It might not be obvious at first glance, but sleep and exercise share a symbiotic relationship. One relies on the other to keep you healthy and happy. Without proper sleep, your body can’t repair itself. And, if you don’t get moderate exercise, you might not sleep as well.
When all the machinery runs well, though, it works toward a very important goal – your health and well-being.
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