Sweat More to Sleep Better

January 2015, Xtend-Life Expert

Summary

Exercise is one of the healthiest ways to experience better living through better brain chemistry. Regular moderate to vigorous exercise releases endorphins; and these ‘feel good’ hormones energise us as well as reduce our sugar cravings.

Exercise is one of the healthiest ways to experience better living through better brain chemistry. Regular moderate to vigorous exercise releases endorphins; and these ‘feel good’ hormones energize us as well as reduce our sugar cravings. 

Studies have also found a correlation between exercise and sleep. A study shows that individuals who did at least 150 minutes of exercise per week slept significantly better and felt more alert during the day. Interestingly, the connection also works the other way around, with good sleep influencing exercise the next day.

Sleep is not made up of one thing. Instead it is composed of several different processes; each of these being independently important and equally responsive to regular exercise.

The types of sleep include:

  1. Slow wave sleep (often characterized as important for body repair and maintenance)
  2. Rapid-eye-movement sleep (REM) (during which dreams typically occur) 
  3. N2 sleep which constitutes more than half of our overall sleep time

Without experiencing all stages of sleep, you never fully relax during the night, the good news is daily exercise (as little as 30 min) may help to improve the sleep quality.

When talking about exercise, it can be anything from mountain biking with friends to walking the dog. Any physical activity that causes your heart rate to increase, is exercise! 

Four Exercise Tips For You:

TIP #1: Walk away from your cravings.

Go for a brisk walk when you feel a sugar or carb craving coming on.  Do this often instead of running to the refrigerator and you’ll find yourself craving the exercise instead of the sweet snack.

TIP #2: Avoid sweet rewards.

Rewarding ourselves with a snack or dessert can be traced right back to childhood. How often do we promise candy to a child if the vegetables get eaten? Replace sweet treats with other rewards like a visit to the park or playground and teach your children from a young age not to associate sugar with a reward.

TIP #3: Join a class.

Classes at a gym or a YMCA centre keep exercising fun and help you stick to a routine. For example, spin class every Monday ensures you mix-up your exercise while exercising every Monday.

TIP #4: Buddy up.

It is amazing what accountability can do to us. Buddy up with a friend or family member and aim to do something you both love once every week. Tennis on Thursdays? Sounds like a plan.

I don’t know how you are feeling right now, but just writing this article has got me all fired up! I cannot wait to get home and get into my old running shoes for a jog/run around the block. I’m also buddying up with my mum and sister for a Pilates class every Monday, starting next week - family bonding at its best.

What are your plans to get you sleeping better? We would love to hear it. Let’s take this one “step” at a time.

In good health.

References:

  1. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1755296611000317
  2. http://www.aasmnet.org/jcsm/ViewAbstract.aspx?pid=29078
  3. http://sleepfoundation.org/ask-the-expert/how-does-exercise-affect-sleep-duration-and-quality

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