As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, can improve the quality of your nighttime sleep, especially when done on a regular basis, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Brian Ferrari, national programming manager for the Gold’s Gym Fitness Academy, knows this firsthand.
“I’ve never enjoyed running, but I’ve been making myself run 3 to 5 miles a day these past few months,” Ferrari says. “My sleep has improved because I’m doing something different and challenging my body.”
On the flip side, quality of rest is important when preparing your body for athletic activity and for recovery afterward — especially for high-intensity training sessions and endurance events.
Exercise for sleep
If you’re having trouble falling or staying asleep, exercising can help by resetting your sleep cycle. Your body temperature rises during your workout. When it drops again, usually a few hours later, it triggers sleepiness.
When you’re trying to use exercise to promote sleep or ease sleep trouble, take note of when you begin to feel tired after a workout and adjust your exercise schedule accordingly. Consistent timing will help you develop and maintain a sleep pattern that is more likely to help you achieve the recommended seven to nine hours per night.
Recovery + sleep
We all know we feel good when we get the right amount of quality sleep. But did you know that if you’re not sleeping well, you’re sabotaging your efforts at the gym?
Here’s what happens during the deep stages of non-rapid eye movement sleep:
- Immune system recharge
- Muscle and bone development
- Tissue repair and regeneration
- Hormone balance
Whether you’re maintaining a daily exercise routine or training for an athletic competition, those four things are critical to physical performance, recovery and injury prevention.
“People want to see results quickly, so they’ll go all out in the gym four or five days a week,” Ferrari says. “Pro-athletes don’t even do that. They build in time for rest. A normal individual operating at a very high intensity more than twice a week is probably too much.”
Listen to your body. Give yourself the rest you need and you’re more likely to achieve the success you want.