It’s a fact: sleep aids in regenerating the body tissues.
Sleep troubles like insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea mean your body doesn’t heal well. It’s a downward spiral that leads to a lack of sleep, predisposing your body to stress, anxiety, and tiredness.
You might have tried exercising in the evening before. Maybe strength training, maybe something involving more aerobics. Vigorous exercise pepped you up and made sleep more elusive. It increases the heart rate and you’ve got to wait for the parasympathetic nervous system to slow it down.
On that level, exercising for sleep doesn’t make sense, like it would make you worse off than you already are.
The key is gentle to moderate exercise if you’re working out before bed.
If you’re talking about exercising right before bed, don’t do any strength training or aerobics. That sort of activity would only pep you up and make sleeping more difficult. When you think “exercise for sleep,” think of stretching or gentle cardiovascular activities.
Try it, you might like it!
What you can get from doing a few exercises before bedtime isn’t found in a prescription sleeping pill or an over-the-counter supplement.
Admittedly, exercise before sleep might not sound like the most restful idea, but trust us—there’s something for everyone! From yoga to breathing exercises, plenty of gentle, sleep-promoting exercises will help relax and rejuvenate your mind—give it a try!
Here are the top types of exercise to improve your sleep cycle and clear the way for you to enjoy a consistent and powerful sleep routine that results in improved sleep quality.
One of the most effective ways to enhance your sleep is through yoga poses and asanas—or simple stretching.
Try a few yoga asanas if you can’t sleep throughout the night. Poses like the Standing Forward Bend, Plow Pose, Child’s Pose, and the Garland Pose aid in relaxation. The Child’s Pose stretches the hips, back, thighs, and ankles. It helps alleviate back pain and curbs neck soreness. Further, the pose might relieve psychological distress and decrease fatigue.
The Garland Pose involves sitting down in the squatting position. It enhances concentration, induces mental clarity, and boosts your focus. Such effects contribute to an improved sleep cycle and reduce the chances of stress-induced insomnia. You can couple up the Plow Pose with the other poses to improve your sleep cycle. All you need to do is lie on your back and keep your palms flat on the ground. The next step is to raise the legs and try to touch them on the floor. Such poses induce top-notch mental relaxation.
Yoga is a discipline that involves meditation and breathing, but plain old stretching exercises can also improve your sleep cycle. Some stretching exercises like the bear hug, neck stretches, and low lunges help relieve muscular tension. Also, it reduces the chances of sleep-related cramps and eases sore muscles. You can practice the bear hug stretch by opening your arms wide while inhaling. During the second step, you must exhale during the exhalation phase of breathing.
For the low lunge stretch, you can place the right foot below the right knee and extend the left leg backward. Make sure to perform the stretching exercises before you hit the bed for maximum rejuvenation.
See Prime Video: Yoga for Restful Sleep with Dr. David Nightengale
Breathing techniques can also provide a base for useful sleep-promoting exercise. There are many of these to try.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique involves inhaling for around four seconds, holding your breath for seven seconds, and exhaling for eight seconds.
The three-part breathing technique includes inhaling deeply for a few seconds. Pause. Then, try to exhale fully and gradually. The goal is to increase the duration of the exhalation such that it becomes twice that of the inhalation.
Nadi Shodhana, also known as Alternate Nasal Breathing, can help you soothe your mind and increase your sleep length. Inhale through one nostril, hold, and then exhale through the other. Then, inhale through the nostril you just exhaled through. Finally, exhale through the first nostril. Repeat for at least five minutes.
These breathing exercises can help relax your mind, increase blood circulation, and enhance the release of sleep hormones. On top of this, they can boost the release of endorphins and might decrease cortisol.
Did you know that jumping rope several hours before bedtime can improve your sleep and increase the release of sleep hormones? With the rhythmic movements of the exercise, you’re likely to get rid of anxious thoughts. It frees your mind from the burden of what-ifs and past experiences. Also, exercise increases the breakdown of fats and induces fatigue. As the levels of fatigue increase, so do sleep quality and consistency. You can do around four to five sets of 40 to 50 repetitions daily for better sleep. Try taking at least a one-minute break in between to relax your muscles and catch up on the breath.
If you’re looking for a way to relax and get better quality sleep, consider trying out Tai Chi! This ancient Chinese practice has been used for centuries to promote relaxation, mental clarity, and improved health. Not only can it help you relax and get more restful sleep, it can also improve your balance, coordination, and flexibility. Plus, it’s a great way to connect with your body and mind on a deeper level.
Remember any type of exercise can be great for your overall health and help you get a good night’s sleep. It doesn’t matter when you exercise during the day—whether it’s in the morning, afternoon, or evening—it can help you get a more restful sleep at night. If you’re going to exercise right before bed, stick to these or something like walking or gentle isometrics.
Exercise increases your heart rate and body temperature. When it’s time to go to bed, your body is more likely to be ready to relax and drift off to sleep. Additionally, exercise releases endorphins, which can reduce stress and help you feel calmer and more relaxed before bed.
Jessica Smith is a content creator with “The Lion” chronotype. It’s her mission to create sustainable solutions for lasting health, happiness, and confidence by cutting through the noise in the fitness and health industry. She envisions a world where self-love and care are daily habits.
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