If you’re truly invested in your health, you probably already know that fitness and sleep go hand-in-hand. Getting enough sleep each night is crucial to your body’s recovery, and exercising every day can help you to experience a more restful, fulfilling night’s sleep.
There’s no denying the link between fitness and sleep, but if you still struggle with getting the rest you need, what can you do? Can changing up the way you go about your fitness routine help?
In many cases, yes.
When you exercise, how you exercise, and what you do for the rest of your day can actually impact your overall sleep health and make you feel more well-rested.
With that in mind, let’s look at a few fitness tips to help you sleep better and night and experience the recovery your body deserves.
EXERCISE THE RIGHT WAY
Not all exercises are created equally. So, if you’re having trouble sleeping, you might want to consider incorporating a different exercise routine into your day.
Studies have shown that the best type of exercise for improving your sleep is moderate aerobic activity. That includes things like:
While aerobic activity can help you sleep, make sure you’re making it a part of your routine for the right reasons. Most cardio exercises burn a lot of calories. If you want to lose weight and get healthy, that’s wonderful. But, if you’re struggling with underlying body image issues or you’ve already lost weight and you’re still feeling depressed, take it easy with this type of exercise. Instead, focus on workouts that help you feel strong and empowered.
When your thoughts calm down and you’re not feeling so overwhelmed, you may end up sleeping better, anyway. Fitness is just as much about your mental health as your physical health. Make sure you’re paying attention to both to experience the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
RECOVER THE RIGHT WAY
Sometimes, no matter what type of workout you do, it’s how you recover that makes a difference. Sleep should be your ultimate recovery time, which is why it’s so important to get 7-9 hours each night. But, if you’re tossing and turning or having trouble falling asleep, you could be making some mistakes with your workouts or other areas of your fitness regimen.
For example, when you work out matters. If you work out just before bed, your heart rate might be too elevated for you to fall asleep right away. Your body produces endorphins and adrenaline when you exercise, which can also make it more difficult to sleep. Unless you’re doing light, calming exercises like yoga or stretching, try to give yourself at least four hours between a workout and going to sleep. This will give your mind and body a chance to wind down.
What you do after your workout also matters. If you exercise in the morning, for example, you could unhinge the rest of your day by doing things like:
- Remaining mostly still the rest of the day
- Staring at computer or cell phone screens
- Not stretching properly
- Taking a nap
What you eat throughout the day could also impact your sleep. Eating the right foods for your muscles to recover is important, and that includes quite a bit of protein. If there are too many carbohydrates or saturated fats in your diet, they can leave you feeling tired but not sleepy. This might make you tempted to nap during the day, but it won’t help you sleep at night. Instead, make sure you’re getting enough protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to keep your energy levels up throughout the day.
There are so many little tips and tricks that you can incorporate into your fitness routine for better sleep. For starters, though, take a look at how (and when) you work out, and how you allow yourself to recover. By focusing on those two areas, you can start on a healthy and effective journey toward better sleep and more meaningful rest.