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Posts tagged ‘Exercise’

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

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.

Bibliography:

1. National Sleep Foundation—Study: Physical Activity Impacts Overall Quality of Sleep; http://www.sleepfoundation.org/alert/study-physical-activity-impacts-overall-quality-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; http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2010/09/aerobic-exercise-relieves-insomnia.html

Wake Up Refreshed: Six Tips to Help Start the Day

Around 20 percent of Americans report regularly getting less than six hours of sleep a night. 1 This sleep deprivation results in groggy and irritable workmates, friends and family members who seem to have a chronic “case of the Monday’s”. Most people simply try to stay awake have their morning cup of coffee… followed by their afternoon cup of coffee. Simple adjustments to schedule and lifestyle can leave you refreshed and ready to take on the day.

1. Your Relationship with the Alarm Clock

It is best to set your alarm clock for the latest moment possible to wake up. Slapping the snooze button every five minutes to get a little more sleep will result in fragmented sleep that will make you more tired when finally rolling out of bed. 2 Also, consider getting a less “alarming” alarm. Some companies offer alarm clocks that gradually get louder or have gentle nature sounds such as babbling brooks or waterfalls to help you gradually come out of sleep. As soon as you hear the alarm, swing your legs over the side of the bed and take some deep breaths. 2

2. Exercise

Exercising as soon as you wake up can give your mind and body the burst of energy it needs to start the day. Even a brisk walk can wake you up more than dragging your feet to the coffee maker. Simply walking around the house or out to get the paper can give your body the kick-start it needs. Be sure not to sacrifice needed sleep time in order to exercise. 2

3. Start with a Splash

I like to start the day by washing my face with cool water. The water will shock the face cells into action and cause you to even look more awake. Taking a hot shower can also wake the body up and help you to get your day started.

4. See the Daylight

Keeping the house dark to let yourself “adjust” only makes the mind more tired and convinced that it is still night time. By opening curtains and blinds and allowing natural daylight in, you will slow the brain’s production of melatonin and begin the mind’s wake up process. This is more difficult in the winter as the sun rises later and can contribute to seasonal affective disorder or winter depression. 3 Light and darkness help to regulate the sleep-wake cycle and doing this on a regular basis can make waking up easier.

5. Watch Your Medications

Some sleep or cold medications can cause drowsiness for up to eight hours. If taking such a medication, be sure to allow yourself to sleep the full amount of time the effects will be present. Trying to fight drowsiness brought on by medication will be very difficult.

6. Get Enough Sleep

The most simple, yet hardest way to improve mood and ability to wake up is by simply getting enough restful sleep. If continuously waking up under-rested, fix the problem by going to sleep earlier. This can be done by regulating your biological clock or circadian rhythm. 3 Using natural sleep aids or other psychological methods to fall asleep quicker can help regulate the biological clock quicker.

The best way to acclimate the body and mind with waking up earlier is to keep the same sleep schedule on weekends. Simple lifestyle adjustments can help the body and mind to wake up and take on the day. While waking up refreshed is important, ensuring you have had the proper rest period is what matters most. Without the adequate amount of sleep, no amount of caffeine, exercise or lifestyle changes will truly stop the effects of sleep deprivation.

Bibliography:

1. WebMD—Toll of Sleep Loss in America http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/toll-of-sleep-loss-in-america

2. WebMD—Trouble Waking Up; http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/trouble-waking-up

3. USA Today—Can you become a morning person? Yes, but it’s not easy; http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/story/health/story/2011-11-21/Can-you-become-a-morning-person-Yes-but-its-not-easy/51338980/1