Let's get physical!

Wake up. Work out. Work. Pick up the kids. Cook dinner. Clean up. Go to bed.

Or is it: Wake up. Work. Pick up the kids. Cook dinner. Clean up. Work out. Go to bed.

Either way, that “work out” task is very important. Statistics show that 35-40% of people have sleep issues in the evening as well as sleepiness during the day. Many studies are saying that people who get some sort of physical activity during the week sleep better at night.

People who get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week tend to sleep better at night and report feeling less drowsy during the day. Studies show that the best time to exercise is late afternoon, at least 3 hours before bedtime. This is because body temperatures rise during exercise and it can take hours for it to drop. Cooler body temperatures are associated with sleep onset and the feeling of drowsiness. Properly timing workouts are key to getting all the benefits of the exercise and improving your sleep. A good workout can speed up metabolism and make you more alert for the day ahead. A workout shortly before bed can lead to a poor night’s sleep due to these same reasons.

One study that researched the correlation between insomnia and regular exercise concluded that, after 4-24 weeks of regular moderate exercise, adults reported falling asleep more quickly, getting a better night’s rest and feeling more rested throughout the day. Regular exercise can also reduce insomnia by decreasing anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Another study states that “After controlling for age, BMI (Body Mass Index), health status, smoking status, and depression, the relative risk of often feeling overly sleepy during the day compared to never feeling overly sleepy during the day decreased by 65 percent for participants meeting physical activity guidelines.”

The correlation between exercise and sleep is circular. Moderate exercise can lead to better sleep, and better sleep can lead to improved exercise habits. A 1999 study at the University of Chicago showed that restricting sleep to only 4 hours per night for a week in healthy young adults created the glucose and insulin characteristics of diabetics. And people who don’t sleep well have signs of daytime drowsiness which can lead to lower energy levels and the difficulty to commit to exercise or a balanced diet.

So, what does that mean for you? Sleep better = exercise better … Exercise better = sleep better.