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How Can Exercise Improve Sleep?

written by: Rochelle Connery • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 5/31/2011

Finding out how exercise helps sleep will assist you in creating your workout routine and planning when to work out, too. These two lifestyle habits go hand in hand when fitted together in just the right fashion.

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    The Validity of Exercise and Sleep Help

    Does exercise really help sleep? Short answer: yes! Exercise really does help you sleep at night. This is great news for people with mild sleep disorders who do not wish to take medication but would like to improve their sleeping habits.

    That being said, there are certain exercises and routine necessities required in order to get the most of exercise-assisted sleep. We’ll touch on these in this article about how exercise can help improve sleep.

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    Why Exercise Helps

    According to Mayo Clinic, the reason exercise helps sleep is because it represents regular activity. Daily physical activity tires out your body, and you sleep better when your body is tired than when you’ve been sitting all day and are full of energy at night.

    When you get a good night’s sleep, you perform better the next morning. It’s kind of like a cycle. If you exercise in the day, you get a good night’s sleep. If you get a good night’s sleep, you feel like being productive and concentrating for a good portion of the following day. Keeping up this pattern may lead to a more productive lifestyle – and definitely a healthier, happier you!

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    How to Exercise for Better Sleep

    Knowing how exercise helps sleep isn’t enough. You need to know how and when to exercise for your sleep to improve.

    Yoga exercises make a big difference when it comes to sleep enhancement. Yoga relaxation techniques cool down your body and prepare it for relaxing in bed and encourage your mind to drift off to sleep. One such move is a simple against-the-wall move that you can do on your bed if it’s scooted close enough to the wall. Lay down on your back with your rump up against the wall, your legs flat against the wall and your back on the bed. Extend your arms at your sides and breathe deeply in and out. Remember – relax!

    Exercise at a beneficial time of day. Stanford University recommends not doing any strenuous exercise for at least four hours before going to bed, or you’ll amp up that heart rate and be wide awake as possible. Leave exercise for a time right before you want a burst in energy, as all that blood flow will keep you energized for a few hours after you finish.

    That being said, don’t be afraid to do gentle relaxation exercises from Yoga or Pilates right before bed – those don’t count as strenuous exercise.

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    Tips for Exercising Before Bed

    In addition to picking relaxation-promoting workouts before bed, you need to get your mind ready for sleep, too. Use these tips to help you exercise before bed.

    • Listen to calm music – not your favorite party dance mix.
    • Exercise in the dark or with a soft lamp, rather than a bright light.
    • Exercise in your jammies. This will prepare your mind for sleep.
    • Work out in your bedroom, but try to do it on the floor. Certain Yoga moves excepted, you’re best off to leave the bed for sleep purposes only.
    • Light a chamomile or lavender candle to put your senses to sleep. Don’t sniff in anything sharp or bright-scented.