Your doctor will want you to exercise as much as your body can take. The amounts and intensity of exercise needed for healthy living differ from one person to another. Similarly, how exercise is good or bad for sleep varies among individuals. In fact, the relationship between sleep and exercises is complicated. In some cases, sleep is enhanced by being physically active while in others its not.
Exercise: Tiredness and Sleep
The more you exercise, the more tired you get. Generally, most people find it easier to sleep when they are tired. However, it comes as a surprise to many people that exercising 3 to 4 hours before sleep is counterproductive. Exercise increases the flow of blood in the body which stimulates the heart, brain and muscles. When these body parts are stimulated, you will generally tend to stay awake. In fact, you will have to wait for your body to not only cool down but also to relax for you to achieve sleep.
Exercise and Sleep: The Connection
Sleep is controlled by the sleep/wake cycle which is under the influence of light and darkness. As evening approaches and its get darker, body activities and functions slowdown. Body temperature is high during the day. However at night, temperature goes down and this is thought to trigger the body to sleep. This drop in temperature forces you to keep warm in bed and thus achieve sleep.
Studies have shown that exercise increases body temperature by more than 2 degrees. This 2-degree increase in temperature is enough to keep you awake for 4 to 5 hours as the body tries to lower it down. After the body manages to lower temperature, deep sleep is achieved because the body is also tired. The danger here is that since you slept late, you are more likely to wake up late. For this reason, it is advisable to exercise 4 to 6 before bedtime.
Exercise in the morning is associated with less stress and better mood. Less stress and better moods have a positive indirect impact one sleep. Exercising in the morning in daylight helps to reinforce the sleep/wake cycle.
Exercise, Sleep and Obesity
Exercises help to burn down excess fats thereby reducing the possibility of being obese. Obesity is associated with sleep apnea where breathing stop temporarily stops during sleep. Sleep apnea not only severely affects sleep but also associated with heart disorders. The larger your neck size, the higher your chances getting sleep apnea.
Studies show that even when exercising and taking fewer calories, losing weight is more difficult without good sleep. In fact, sleep deprived people tend to eat more. Muscles growth occurs during sleep. Anti-muscle growth factors are released in persons who are sleep deprived. Since muscles are the most efficient tissue as burning fats, fewer muscles make it difficult to lose weight.
Any type of exercise provided it is done at the right time- 4 to 6 hours before sleep- is good for sleep. However, no type of exercise enhances sleep than cardiovascular. Cardiovascular exercises are exercises which increase the heart rate. For maximum impact, you should try to exercise everyday at the same time. It is advisable to contact your health care provider for tips on how to exercise if you have underlying medical conditions.