We all know there are benefits to exercising. Physical activity keeps us in shape, reduces stress, and boosts our energy. But here’s another reason to do it. It can help improve the quality and duration of our sleep. Most experts say at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day is enough to help us sleep better. 

According to Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep there’s still some debate as to what time of day we should exercise and what kind of exercise is best. When some people exercise closer to bed it can increase endorphins which can stimulate our brain and keep us up. I can attest to that. If I workout too close to my bedtime, it can keep me up and make it harder to fall asleep. 

For me, working out with weights in the morning definitely makes it easier for me to fall asleep and stay asleep, but cardio in the morning runs a close second. Researchers say to listen to your body and see what works for you. 

If you are struggling to fall asleep or suffering from insomnia, we’ve got five workouts that could help.

 

  • 1

    CARDIO EXERCISE

    There are many aerobic exercises we can do to improve our sleep. They include running, racewalking, cycling, and swimming. But doing a vigorous workout is helpful as it will rapidly increase our body temperature and make us sleepy at night.

    However, if you cannot do intense exercise, then you can always do a moderate activity such as slow walking or jogging for 10-20 minutes every day. You will still be getting the recommended 150 minutes of an average workout a week, which is equivalent to the 75 minutes of vigorous exercising for a week.

  • 2

    STRENGTH TRAINING

    We tend to do strength training to help us build muscles. However, it can also help us fall asleep quickly and wake up less frequently at night.

    A 2015 study showed that college students who did strength workouts such as shoulder presses, bicep curls, and push-ups slept 45 minutes faster than those who did not. Once again, strength training is an intense workout that will also warm up our body and make us tired before bedtime.

  • 3

    BREATHING EXERCISES

    Breathing exercises can help us relax our body and mind so that we can sleep peacefully. However, when doing an inhaling activity, you want to have good body posture by lying in bed or sitting up straight. You also want to avoid distractions, such as watching TV or using your cell phone.

    Simply take a long, deep breath, then exhale fully while focusing on your body. After doing this a few times, slow down your exhale so that it is longer than your inhale. This will increase your lung capacity so that you can breathe better when sleeping or while doing a workout.

  • 4

    YOGA/PILATES

    Doing yoga or Pilates can also calm us down because of their relaxing poses and breathing techniques. However, they can also help those with sleep disorders such as insomnia and narcolepsy.

    A 2013 CDC study showed that people who did yoga or Pilates for 45 minutes fell asleep quickly and slept longer without any interruptions. So, they are the perfect pre-sleep exercises to help us unwind after a long and busy day.

  • 5

    VISUALIZATION EXERCISES

    Before we go to sleep, we may overthink about how strenuous our day must have been because of work and all of the tasks that lie ahead. This makes it difficult for our brain to process our thoughts, that we will have trouble falling asleep easy.

    That’s why we should also focus on visualization techniques to help us clear our mind. We can distract our brain by counting to 100 or concentrating on the details and use of a random object. We can also remember special moments in our lives, such as vacation or childhood memories. Think about these remarkable occasions until you naturally fall asleep.