Here at head office, we are obsessed with all things ‘sleep’, so in 2016 we will be running a sleep school. We want to make sure that this is your best year yet - and that means that sleep should be a top priority. We’d like to declare the Soak&Sleep School officially open, and ready for applicants. Don’t worry - you’ll be able to learn right from the comfort of your own bed as every lesson will be posted right here. With classes ranging from positioning, and materials, to exercise, and nutrition, we have everything you need. Pencils at the ready...
To kick things off, we’re looking into why exercise can help improve your sleep. Ever wondered why after a energetic exercise class, a quick twenty lengths in the pool, or a run around the local park means that when you snuggle down you are out like a light? Well we put our thinking caps on and did some investigating. Hold onto your hats ladies and gentlemen and get ready for the science bit…
Exercise can help promote a deeper, more restful sleep in three ways. Pay attention to this bit - it’ll make you sound pretty smart and could help you to sleep better.
- Firstly, exercise triggers an increase in body temperature. Every night, your body temperature naturally falls as you start to drop off. The drop in temperature after exercise mimics the natural temperature drop your body normally experiences, and so you’re able to encourage your body into falling asleep faster. This is why it’s important not to exercise too late (and why you should take a warm bath rather than a hot one if you want to sleep better): the drop in temperature is important, but your body needs time for this drop to occur.
- Secondly, exercise can decrease excitement, anxiety and depressive symptoms by regulating some of the hormones that trigger such emotions, all of which can keep us awake at night. Most people know that exercise can make your body release endorphins, which are ‘happy hormones’. In truth, these hormones act on your brain so that pain isn’t perceived to be as strong, and can trigger a positive feeling of contentment in the same way that morphine does.
- Finally, exercise can improve our circadian rhythms (body clock). Our internal body clocks are governed by cascades of processes and hormone releases. Cortisol plays a large part of this, and is involved in waking us up in the morning, as well as a response to stress. Regular exercise can decrease the amount of cortisol released in response to stress, and lower cortisol levels mean you shouldn’t be kept awake at night...
Every day, the news tells us that exercise brings with it many health benefits. Is it any wonder why everyone isn’t already doing it? But of course, our inclination to exercise stems down to motivation. We know that the effects of exercise on sleep aren’t immediate, so sadly you won’t be able to see results overnight (sorry!). But keep at it - you’re doing great, and it will pay off more as it becomes more of a habit!
What do you think? Does exercise help you achieve a better, deeper sleep?
Make sure you aren’t late to next Friday's lesson on sleep and nutrition. Same time, same place. Class dismissed.