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Improve your sleep through exercise

Content provided by Program Intern, Emily Tucker

exercise, sleep,

Exercise has been proven to benefit the body in many different ways and sleep is actually one of them!

During exercise the body is put under physical tension.  Because of the stress put on the body, the brain tells the body it needs more quality sleep. This brain/body connection actually allows for a deeper sleep following physical activity.

People who suffer from sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea on average lead more sedentary lives.  The increase in chemical processes, heart rate changes, and body temperature allows the body to become fatigued which aids in the sleeping process at the end of the day.  The body needs deep sleep to repair muscle and restore the body’s systems which have been used during exercise.

The sun also aids in providing the body with Vitamin D and allowing the body to get into its sleep-wake cycle.  Contact with sunlight and the fresh air allows the body’s sense to enhance so when it is time to sleep the body will be prepared to relax and unwind.  Exercising in this type of environment may help sleeping patterns become more regular and increase the quality of your sleep.

If you choose to exercise too close to bedtime, you may find it difficult to sleep.  Morning and afternoon exercises allow the body the proper amount of time to calm down at the end of the day.

Certain types of exercise influence sleep more than others, specifically cardiovascular exercise.  This includes running, cycling, swimming or any other activity that increases your heart rate.

It is important to get the proper amount of sleep, yet even more importantly the most quality sleep possible.  Spending time in the REM stage of sleep is when your body is most relaxed and is restoring itself.  Weight gain can influence the body’s sleep patterns and affect REM sleep stages.  Keeping yourself at a healthy weight may allow you to sleep more sound.

So, if you are having difficulty sleeping, try incorporating more physical activity into your day and you will be surprised at how much your quality of sleep improves.  I challenge you to try it – and then post your results!



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