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Does sleep help you exercise and does exercise help you sleep?

Updated: Aug 31, 2021

The simple answer is yes and yes! Now for the science part…

There is a reciprocal relationship between sleep and exercise. It’s easier to sleep when we’ve exercised and it’s easier to exercise when we’ve had a good night’s sleep.

How much exercise improves sleep?

There have been loads of studies carried out to see what and how much exercise results in the best sleep and whilst some found that just 30 minutes of moderate exercise can improve sleep that very night, some say that it takes longer for exercise to help improve our sleep patterns.

It’s been shown that physical activity also reduces daytime sleepiness and the need for sleep medication. (I must admit that I’m still rather partial to a daytime power nap!)

What all studies seem to agree on is that it’s the regularity of exercise that really benefits our sleep. Even 30 minutes of housework or a 30 minute brisk walk each day can improve how quickly we fall asleep and how long we stay asleep. And of course, regular moderate or higher intensity exercise also has great benefits for our mental and physical health as well as our sleep.

How does good sleep benefit exercise?

Our levels of physical activity are affected by the amount and the quality of sleep we get. It’s probably no surprise that people with sleep disorders like insomnia or sleep apnoea are much less active and tend to be overweight, although it’s tricky to decipher which comes first.

A good night’s sleep helps us to feel well-rested and more motivated to exercise the next day. Morning people/early risers tend to be more active overall that night owls/those who enjoy a long lie-in! But studies have yet to show whether better sleep leads to an increase in activity levels.

Should I exercise right before bedtime?

People who exercise in the evening generally report that they fall asleep quickly and get a good amount of deep sleep, feeling refreshed when they wake up. So, evening exercise does benefit some people but for others, the increase in body temperature after exercise can make it harder to get to sleep and have quality sleep.

Like most things, it’s best to find what works for you and stick with that. Our lifestyles don’t always allow us to exercise at the exact time our body prefers to, but the benefits of doing something that gets us out of breath for at least half an hour a day, like a Gemma Pearce Fitness online workout or live class, is so beneficial that it’s well worth sticking at!

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