Want to fall asleep faster and wake up feeling more rested? Get moving! As little as 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, can dramatically improve the quality of your nighttime sleep, especially when done on a regular basis. What’s more, exercisers may reduce their risk for developing troublesome sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.

What Is The Exercise/Sleep Connection?

  • Physical activity improves sleep quality and increases sleep duration.

  • Exercise may also bolster sleep in other ways, because it reduces stress and tires you out.

  • Early morning and afternoon exercise may also help reset the sleep wake cycle by raising body temperature slightly, then allowing it to drop and trigger sleepiness a few hours later. 

  • It can be especially helpful if you are able to exercise outdoors and let your body absorb natural sunlight during the daytime hours. 

Does It Matter What Time You Exercise? 

  • It used to be thought that working out vigorously too close to bedtime was a no-no for everyone, because it may over-stimulate the body. But it turns out that exercising at night doesn’t interfere with everyone’s sleep. It depends on the individual. 

  • So if you find that physical activity in the evening revs you up too much, do it earlier in the day. But if you find that the opposite is true—maybe you come home so exhausted that you plop down on the bed and fall asleep quickly—then, by all means, keep on doing what you’re doing!

How Does Exercise Help?

  • People sleep significantly better and feel more alert during the day if they get at least 150 minutes of exercise a week. 

  • A nationally representative sample of more than 2,600 men and women, ages 18-85, found that 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week, which is the national guideline, provided a 65 percent improvement in sleep quality.  

  • People also said they felt less sleepy during the day, compared to those with less physical activity.

  • Similar results were also found for having leg cramps while sleeping (68 percent less likely) and having difficulty concentrating when tired (45 percent decrease).

So… physical activity may not just be good for the waistline and heart, but it also can help you sleep! If you are less sleepy, then you are happier, healthier, more likely to pay attention, and more likely to be productive at work or school. Time to get moving!