Photo Credit: Men's Health
Exercise can be a fantastic way to help combat insomnia! But timing, frequency and types of exercise are important to consider when trying to improve your sleep.
Check out our six easy fitness hacks to help you get better sleep tonight:
1. Wake up your body with a mini-workout.
Most people need eight hours of sleep to be fully rested for the day. Have you ever considered the flip-side of that stat? Your body is built for optimum performance on a 16-hour wake cycle. The issue that sometimes occurs here is that even though you wake up and get out of bed, you may not really start moving for a few hours. So, even though you’re awake, your body doesn’t know it until you get going with your day--adding these few extra hours can trick your body into thinking you’ve slept in, causing you not to feel ready to sleep at bedtime.
Tell your body that you’re awake by doing a mini-workout first-thing in the morning to get your blood flowing and energize yourself for the day.
You can keep it simple with a routine like this:
- 25 pushups
- 50 crunches
- 1-minute wall sit
- 50 squats
2. Schedule your main workout 4-8 hours before you want to go to bed.
This window is a sweet-spot for getting a great sleep because you can push yourself harder than you could if you still had a full day ahead of yourself and really tire yourself out, giving yourself a great workout and leaving yourself physically tired before bed. If you aim to work out right before supper, your metabolism will still be raised when you eat, which is an added bonus.
3. Incorporate iso-lateral movements into your workout.
Doing different exercises fatigues the body in many different ways like depleting glycogen, tearing muscles, producing lactic acid and wearing out the nervous system. While exercises that tackle all of these areas are helpful and important, focusing on exercises that fatigue the nervous system specifically will be most effective in helping you sleep at night.
A great way to do this is to incorporate iso-lateral movements. Iso-lateral movements are movements that work on one side of the body at a time or both sides independently, making you work to balance weight.
Some easy examples that you can do at the gym or at home are:
- Dumbbell presses
- One-armed dumbbell rows
- Balancing on one leg (alternate legs, 2 sets per leg)
4. Stick to a routine.
If you maintain consistency in not only your sleep/wake cycle and also supplement it with your workout schedule, your body will have a much easier time recognizing when it’s time to go to bed and when it’s time to wake up. Your biological clock will sync up with your schedule and soon enough, you won’t even need to use an alarm clock! Your body will recognize just based on your consistent routine when you need to sleep and wake up.
5. Try a short evening yoga practice.
One leading cause of insomnia is anxiety. An awesome way to ease anxiety, quiet the mind and relax the body at night is to try a short evening yoga practice. Try this nighttime yoga routine from Fitness Magazine, all of the poses can be done in bed :).
6. Control your core temperature.
If you’re working out close to bedtime (right up to that four-hour window), you may not realize it, but it can take time to drop your core temperature back down--adjust your PJs, sheets and bed accordingly. As I’m sure you notice in the summertime, it can be difficult to sleep when you’re too hot. What we may not notice is that as bedtime approaches and we start to get tired and ready for sleep, our core temperature begins to fall.
A great way to help yourself fall asleep, combat muscle soreness and speed up athletic recovery is to sleep on a mattress with cooling technology. It will help you cool down but never cross the line to feeling cold. You could also try a pillow with cooling technology, make sure your bedroom isn’t too hot at night, sleep with light cotton sheets and light pyjamas.
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