Can exercise help you sleep better?
Physical activity has been scientifically proven to help you with a better quality of sleep. Working out can contribute to more sound and restful sleep and actually increases time spent in a deeper sleep, the most physically restorative sleep phase. Deep sleep helps to boost immune function, support cardiac health and control stress and anxiety.
Being physically active requires you to exert large amounts of energy, helps you feel tired and ready to rest at the end of the day, meaning your sleep is likely to be longer and better quality. Stress is a common cause of sleep problems, including difficulty falling asleep and sleeping restlessly during the night.
Exercise is a fantastic remedy for anxiety and other mood disorders. Just ten minutes of moving your body can stimulate anti-anxiety responses and studies have shown that non-exercisers are the sleepiest but have the highest risk for sleep apnoea and poor sleep.
Does exercising at night keep you awake?
As with coffee, some people can drink a mug before bed and not feel the effects at all, nodding off easily. However, as a rule of thumb, night time coffee overload or a high-intensity cardio or strength workout right before bed is not encouraged if you have experienced difficulty sleeping post-workout.
If this is you, you should at the very least, give your body one hour post exercise to wind down and re-fuel before sleeping. Exercise after all, raises your body temperature, triggers cortisol production, increases your heart rate, which in turn releases endorphins and can often leave us feeling energised.
Research has shown however, that those who have exercised at any time of the day, sleep better than those who have not exercised at all. So, if your only time is before bed, do it. Getting in some exercise is almost always better than no exercise at all.
Is it good to stretch as soon as you wake up?
Yes. After a good few hours of lying in the same position it is important when you wake to give your body a good stretch. Stretching is your body's way of getting your circulation going and encouraging flexibility and mobility through your muscles, joints and to the brain.
Morning stretches can help counteract the negative postural positions we tend develop during our day (slouching in front of our laptops which results in tight chest muscles, long spinal extensor muscles and shortened hamstrings and hip flexors). Following a short morning stretch ritual can leave you feeling more energised and mobile as you head into the rest of your day.