Get Moving for Better Rest
By Kathy Denise Hicks November 17, 2021
If you are a parent with young children or babies, or you are retired, sleep can be an elusive goal. I know for me, I have had trouble sleeping since I was a child. I struggled from night terrors, or very vivid scary dreams. It may have been due to watching something scary before bed, which back then was in black and white and probably not that scary compared to today’s programs. One idea you may not have thought of is lack of movement and exercise may be keeping you from a better restful sleep.
Before you get prescription meds to help you sleep at night, consider that you may simply need to get moving. Exercise is an imperative part of your entire physical fitness outlook, but it’s also important for your mental and emotional health too. Exercising moderately for 150 minutes every week will improve your sleep. You may find if you get moving you will have better rest.
Exercise helps improve sleep because:
• You’ll expose yourself to more daylight – Getting exercise in the morning sun will help set your internal clock. This is your circadian rhythm. If yours is working right, the added sunshine in the morning before noon will wake up your mind while taking a slow walk after dinner as it starts to get dark will help you fall asleep.
• You’ll reduce feelings of stress and anxiety – Any time you feel that tickle in your tummy or tightness in your throat caused by stress and anxiety, it could be a sign that you need to move. Moving works to reduce your anxiety because it lowers the anxiety-producing hormones released in your bloodstream during the feelings.
• You’ll get tired – If you start exercising every day, you’ll be burning more calories and more energy which will reduce the amount of energy you have by the time you go to bed at night – as it should be. It’s normal to be tired at night. Don’t do things to stay awake longer at night.
Types of exercise that might help improve your sleep:
• Aerobics in the morning – Remember that you want to do the faster and harder exercises in the morning if possible. Running, fast walking, and other aerobic workouts will wake you up because they deliver more oxygen to your brain and raise your body temperature. When trying to figure out which exercise is best for you give this article I wrote a bit ago, What is Right For You.
• Outside morning exercising – If you can get out in the sunshine before noon each day for at least 20 minutes of sunshine, you’ll help your circadian rhythm work properly, so your body knows it’s time to wake or sleep.
• Pilates or stretching at night – If you want to move at night, consider doing slow exercises like stretching. Anything that you do that is calming is going to help induce sleep later. Just don’t get your heart rate up or start sweating.
• After dinner stroll – Poor digestion can lead to poor quality sleep. Take an after-dinner stroll to help your digestion along. After dinner, this slow walk doesn’t need to be challenging and should not cause undue excitement to your system. Being in nature is also great for your immune system.
The trick is that you shouldn’t do any aerobic exercises in the evening. Instead, suppose you want to exercise in the evening. In that case, it’s important to do slow stretching and relaxing movements instead of high-volume movements because sleeping requires your body temperature to be lower than when you’re awake, and intense exercise does the opposite.
I hope that you try a few of these suggestions and reach your sleep goal. Oh you haven’t made a sleep goal? Try to set a goal for a time you will get ready for bed, and a time for lights out. In addition, try to get in a minimum of 6 hours of sleep, with the ultimate goal of getting 8 hours of sleep a night. Happy, Healthy Sleeping!
Kathy is a Personal Trainer/Corrective Exercise Specialist, Author, Entrepreneur. She currently inspires clients to incorporate habits which alleviate joint and muscular pain, increase energy, and attain their ideal weight. Kathy’s mantra “No Pain, More Gain” is truly exemplified through her coaching technique and expertise. She has recently created a Foot Fitness Program and uses her Yamuna and Pilates Certifications to keep her clients in shape from head to toe.