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Does Exercise Help You Sleep Better?

Exercise benefits the body and mind in many ways, one being sleep ability. The National Sleep Foundation’s study showed that those who participated in the national guideline of exercise (150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a week) showed a 65 percent increase in sleep quality. 1 Physical activity and sleep go hand in hand, and proper integration of both can result in improved overall feeling of well-being.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercises include running or jogging, biking, swimming, skiing, tennis, dancing and any other activity requiring a great deal of movement. This active fashion of exercise has shown to drastically improve overall quality of sleep including ability to fall asleep and waking up refreshed. 3 Aerobic activities are thought to give the body more energy, so avoid doing them close to bedtime.Exercising regularly is vital to its success. Stopping exercise for just 72 hours can result in beginning of deterioration of fitness. 2


Yoga has been proven to help relax the mind and body. The stretching in yoga can help prepare the mind and body for bed, especially if a harder workout occurred earlier in the day. Sleep disorders such as insomnia and restless legs syndrome have been shown to have reduced symptoms when doing yoga prior to bedtime. Yoga has been proven to help relieve stress and though yoga poses may not help you shed unwanted body weight, they will help you prepare for a good night’s sleep.

Effects of Regular Exercise

Regular exercise can help improve heart and lung functioning as well as increase the production of endorphins (natural mood enhancers produced by the brain). Endorphins help to reduce pain, relax muscles, suppress appetite and increase overall well-being. 2 Participants in a study conducted by Northwestern Medicine reported overall decreased depressive symptoms, increased vitality and less daytime drowsiness. 3

Just as exercising helps with sleep quality, sleep helps with effectiveness of exercising. No exercise regimen will be successful without the adequate amount of recovery time. Sleep will allow for higher levels of alertness and more energy, making exercise as fulfilling as possible.

Exercising only helps to induce sleep when practiced around six hours before bedtime. If exercising too close to the time you would like to go to sleep you may experience increased alertness and insomnia. Additionally, the body takes around fix to six hours to cool itself down to normal temperature after a workout. If exercising too close to bedtime, increase body heat can cause restlessness. The body’s natural cooling can help to lull individuals to sleep as cooler temperatures have shown to help with sleep quality.

Increasing amount of exercise can provide a cheaper, less dangerous and more effective alternative to sleeping pills and their potential side effects when treating insomnia. When considering increasing physical activity, be sure to check with your doctor if you have any medical conditions that could result in injury when too intense of activity is attempted.


1. National Sleep Foundation—Study: Physical Activity Impacts Overall Quality of Sleep;

2. Maas, Dr. James B., Megan L. Wherry, David J Axelrod, Barbara R. Hogan, and Jennifer A. Blumin. Power Sleep: The Revolutionary Program That Prepares Your Mind for Peak Performance. New York : Villard, 1998.

3. Northwestern University—Aerobic Exercise Relieves Insomnia;

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. I definitely agree that exercise definitely helps the quality of sleep you get. I worked out every day this week and I fell asleep quickly and stayed asleep. My mind didn’t wander like it can sometimes. My boyfriend says he’s been sleeping better too and he exercises more excessively than I do.

    August 15, 2013
  2. i have litttle rituals i have to do. i have a body pillow , i listen to my ipod for about 10 mins, (blanks the mind) . have to be almost cold room, evreything dark as can get it

    August 15, 2013
  3. started biking with my husband

    August 15, 2013
  4. My wife and I, who are both 62 years of age, have walked 7.5 miles per day (6 days a week) for the past two years. We notice that if we don ‘t walk, 11:00PM rolls around and we are still not ready to go to bed. If we do walk during the day, usually morning, we have more energy all day and by 11:00PM, we go to bed, in our Serenity Gel Bed-In-A-Box, and we fall asleep almost before our heads hit the pillow. We sleep soundly, for 8 hours, all night, and are ready for another great day in the morning. The side benefit of the exercise, is feeling and looking healthier, as we have lost 20 pounds each and our body fat is down to about 21%. Now we almost have guilt when day 7 rolls around and we don’t get out and exercise. It really does become a good obsession!

    August 15, 2013
  5. thanks for this article!

    August 15, 2013
  6. My wife and I, both 62 years of age, walk 7.5 miles per day, 6 days a week. We have found that this 2 hour exercise allows us to be mire energetic during the rest if the day and ready to sleep at night without any sleepless hours after going to bed. We both seems to fall asleep before our heads even hit the pillow sometimes. Our Serenity Gel Bed-in-a-Box mattress also helps lull us into a comfortable supportive sleep. We find that on the one day a week that we don’t walk that going to bed leaves us slightly less calm and almost makes us feel guilty that we didn’t get out there and hike the neighborhood trails. The exercise also has the side benefit of main obtains our weight (we have lost 20 pounds just walking each day) and our body fat is down to 21%. Neither of us are prescribed any medication of any kind while we see many friends, who do not exercise,or just walk daily, on 5 or 6 medications a day. We think we are obsessed but our sleep and energy provides us with a healthily mental and physical attitude.

    August 15, 2013
  7. I recently had back surgery and since beginning physical therapy with some exercise, my sleep has improved.

    August 17, 2013
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