Although sleep and exercise may seem to be mediated by completely different physiological mechanisms, there is growing evidence for clinically important relationships between these two behaviors. It is known that passive body heating facilitates the nocturnal sleep of healthy elderly people with insomnia. This finding supports the hypothesis that changes in body temperature trigger somnogenic brain areas to initiate sleep. Nevertheless, little is known about how the core and distal thermoregulatory responses to exercise fit into this hypothesis. Such knowledge could also help in reducing sleep problems associated with nocturnal shift work. It is difficult to incorporate physical activity into a shiftworker's lifestyle, since it is already disrupted in terms of family commitments and eating habits. A multi-research strategy is needed to identify what the optimal amounts and timing of physical activity are for reducing shift work-related sleep problems.
The relationships between sleep, exercise and diet are also important, given the recently reported associations between short sleep length and obesity. The cardiovascular safety of exercise timing should also be considered, since recent data suggest that the reactivity of blood pressure to a change in general physical activity is highest during the morning. This time is associated with an increased risk in general of a sudden cardiac event, but more research work is needed to separate the influences of light, posture and exercise per se on the haemodynamic responses to sleep and physical activity following sleep taken at night and during the day as a nap.
A good night's sleep means maximum freshness in the morning, a clear head to face the day, and an energized spirit to live healthily. People who sleep for at least 8 hours per day end up doing impressively well in the gym. Without enough sleep, your body doesn’t fully benefit from physical exercise.
On the other hand, exercising exhausts your body and makes it sleep. Exercising is actually the number one sleep therapy for people who suffer from sleep disorders such as restless leg syndrome and sleep apnea. People who do moderate exercise, e.g. riding bikes sleep better and for longer compared to those who don’t. People who exercise intensely, e.g. runners and bodybuilders often sleep the longest.
The better sleep you get, the better workouts you'll have, and those better workouts will eventually help to promote a deeper sleep. It may seem discouraging at first, but if you keep up with a moderate exercise regimen, eventually you'll set off a positive chain reaction that leads to improvements in both areas. (If you have legitimate clinical sleep problems, as always, it's best to seek the advice of a medical professional before choosing exercise as your go-to sleep cure.)
Clearly, there is an undeniable relationship between exercise and sleep. In this post, we will be looking at the impact of sleep on exercise and vice versa.
How Exercising Impact Sleep
- Resetting your sleep-wake cycle
Whenever you wear your running shoes and start exercising, your body temperature starts to rise. Any form of exercise has this effect on your body. This temperature becomes your new normal and your body adapts to it. When you stop exercising, the body temperature reduces and that triggers sleepiness. Your body feels like it needs to be buried in a blanket for it to maintain the awesome warm feeling. If you exercise in the evening, therefore, you are likely to fall asleep earlier than you are used to.
- Makes you more active during the day
If you slept early last night, then you definitely woke up earlier today. That implies a longer gym session in the morning. If you do this with regularity, your body adapts to waking up early and exercising in the morning. This precipitates a productive day at work, more happiness, and reduced work stress. When you get home in the evening, therefore, you are able to have a quality, undisturbed sleep all night long.
- Absorbing natural sunlight
If you are able to exercise outdoors and immerse your body in natural sunlight, then your body is able to absorb lots of vitamin D. Your bones become stronger and your body feels happy. When you retire to sleep later that night, your body feels at peace and ready to sleep.
- Tiring you out
This goes without saying: Exercising twice a day can be very tiring. You are forced to push your body to unimaginable limits in order to get that extra mile on the running trail. The moment you plop down on the bed, sleep will overwhelm you quickly and strongly so that you don’t keep waking up in the middle of the night.
How Proper Sleep Impact Your Exercise.
- Restoring energy
Working out tires your body and depletes its energy. When you sleep for at least 7 to 8 hours, your energy is restored and you are able to exercise again the following day.
- Production of the growth hormone
If you are like many people, exercising is your way of building your body muscles and looking physically fit. The hormone responsible for renovating your body contours in order to make them look full and well in place is the growth hormone. This hormone is produced during sleep.
- Improves your state of mind
Exercising isn’t the easiest thing to do; it requires discipline, determination, and commitment. But you cannot have all those qualities if you aren’t in the best state of mind. When you sleep well at night and wake up happy, you feel optimistic towards everything you deem important in your life, working out included. People who sleep well often finish their workouts more efficiently and without the thought of quitting. You are able to concentrate more and keep a positive mood all along.
- Improved health
If you are unhealthy, you may not be in a good position to exercise. Research shows that sleep-deprived people are at a greater risk of suffering from chronic ailments such as diabetes, obesity, and heart diseases. Such people are more often than not depressed and sad. With such conditions, working out can never be effective.
Working out and then failing to sleep well at night is counterproductive because you might become obese after all. Waking up depressed every morning due to lack of sleep will mean that you will have baggage every time you hit the road.
How much sleep do we really need?
Wouldn’t it be great if this was a specific number? Not everyone needs eight hours. Some need more. Many can operate well on less. And it still comes down to the quality of sleep: in general, it’s better to get fewer hours of deep, interrupted sleep than more sleep that’s restless or broken up.
So, a few tips:
- Assess how you feel. Keep a sleep journal for a week or two, noting what time you go to bed, wake up, how often you wake up, and how you feel once you’re up for the day.
- Check in with your doctor. Are you overweight? Are you experiencing any symptoms of a serious sleep disorder? Are you at risk for any diseases?
- Track your caffeine intake: do you drink it more to stay awake and fight off sleepiness than for the flavor?
- Do you feel sleepy while driving?
If you're having difficulty sleeping and considering hitting the gym a couple times a week to help catch some Zs, just keep in mind the findings of the study above: namely, that you need to make exercise a more frequent activity for a prolonged period of time before you begin to see tangible results. Although the effect might not be immediate, in the long run, maintaining a moderate exercise routine can go a long way in helping improve the quality of sleep and quality of life.