Monday, October 18, 2010

Working Out Helps You Sleep!

Did you hear that you will probably get a better night's sleep if you workout?

Exercising during the day takes away from the tossing and turning in bed at night, according to MSNBC.

Most people claim that they don't work out on a regular basis because they are too tired. Ironically, it's probably because they are not exercising that they are tired in the first place.

A study at Northwestern University studied 23 adults (women, 55 years and older) who had difficulty falling or staying asleep. The lead researcher, Dr. Phyllis Zee, said that most of the poor sleepers became good sleepers after 16 weeks on an aerobics training program. The program included either exercising on a treadmill or stationary bicycle, and average sleep quality improved.

Studies such as these are making doctors look aerobic exercise as a treatment for insomnia.

Zee's study also noted that the improved sleepers also reported, "better moods, fewer depressive symptoms and enhanced vitality. Vitality is everything. It's how somebody feels, how alert."

Best times to work out and why:

  • Late afternoon/early evening
    • Most direct effect on getting a good night's sleep
    • Raises your body temperature above normal a few hours before bed, allowing it to start falling just as you're getting ready for bed. This decrease acts as a trigger that helps you ease into sleep. *Don't exercise up to 3 hours before you go to bed! i.e. going to bed at 11pm, exercise before 8pm*
  • Morning exercise 
    • Relieves stress and improve mood (which, indirectly improve sleep)
    • To get a more direct sleep-promoting benefit from morning exercise, expose yourself to outdoor light. Being exposed to natural light in the morning (whether you're exercising or not) can improve your sleep at night by reinforcing your body's sleep-wake cycle

Some tips for pre-bed time:
  • No caffeine! (obviously...)
  • No TV or video games
  • If you're reading before you go to it somewhere else, and then move to your bed when you are tired
  • Don't exercise up to 3 hours before you go to bed

JMU's URec offers tons of group exercise classes and even more facilities and activities for working out. If you have never been there...go. If you want to force yourself to get into a habit, sign up for the group classes! You have 24 hours before the actual class to sign up online, and if you sign up and decide not to attend more than 3 times, you can't sign up anymore for the semester. That's probably the most forceful way to get you to go to the gym, but when it really comes down to it, getting into the habit is all up to you.

Read more about tips and benefits for sleeping and exercising here.

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