A healthy lifestyle is achieved by balancing the three necessities of life: nutrition, exercise, and sleep.
Sleep is an excellent indicator of one’s overall physical and mental health. Good sleep hygiene means you have quality nighttime sleep, about seven to eight hours, and full daytime alertness. If you’re not sleeping well, it’s likely another factor in your life is off-balance. Among other health factors, several studies conclude exercise can improve sleep quality, sleep duration, excessive sleepiness, and insomnia. People sleep longer, sleep deeper, and dream less when they have exercised. The type of exercise doesn’t seem to have an effect either. Whether it’s Zumba or water aerobics, cycling or Body Pump, aerobic, anaerobic, and resistance exercise can all improve sleep. Not only does exercise improve sleep, adequate sleep gives you more energy to exercise! Additionally, those who have good sleep are less likely to have a high body mass index (BMI). When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies produce fewer hormones that decrease appetite and more hormones that increase appetite. Without good sleep, we may feel too sluggish to exercise and feel hungrier!
There are only two limitations regarding exercise and sleep. You should not exercise close to bedtime nor exercise after chronic sleep deprivation. Exercising close to bedtime negatively affects the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin is secreted in the evening to make you feel sleepy and less alert. If you exercise late, melatonin secretion will be delayed the following night. This can delay your ability to fall asleep and ruin your sleep schedule. Relaxing exercise, like Flowing Yoga and Rock and Roll Yoga, is an exception. Exercising vigorously combined with sleep deprivation, consistently sleeping less than seven hours every night, increases your risk for illness or injury.
In honor of National Sleep Awareness Week, March 6-12, take this time to evaluate and improve your sleep hygiene for restful nights and energized days.
By: Lauren Gassman, MPH, ACSM EP-C, Fitness Specialist/Personal Trainer at Valley Health Wellness & Fitness Center
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