Updated: Jul 6, 2020
I think we all know the importance of a good night’s sleep!
It helps us concentrate throughout the day; helps us to convert short term memories into long term memories; help to maintain healthy weight; keep your heart healthy; keep your immune system strong. And that’s just a few of the benefits.
To be completely honest with you, no one wants to be around a big grumpy-pants, so it’s important for all of us to get enough sleep each and every night. 8 hours of sleep is what we’ve always been told. And that’s pretty spot on!
The amount of sleep that we should be getting actually differs from person to person. Between 7 and 9 hours is what we should be getting. And that’s just for adults! Babies, kids and teenagers need to sleep longer than we do.
Why are these kids allowed to sleep longer than me!? Well, they need the extra sleep to help support their mental and physical development.
For me, 7 hours is the perfect amount! Any less or more than 7 hours – I feel sluggish and crappy.
But how does exercise influence our sleep...?
In my experience, when I have exercised at a high intensity (i.e. absolutely worked my butt off) I will fall asleep very quickly and I sleep through the night. I see this as a way that my body is telling me that it needs some shut eye to re-energise for the next day.
And studies have found that regular exercise can help you fall asleep quicker, improve your sleep quality and increase the duration of your nightly rest.
Do you find that you just cannot sleep when you’re stressed...? Don’t fret, I think we’ve all been through that. Stress is a common cause of sleep problems and exercise is a natural remedy to reduce stress levels, as well as anxiety.
Studies also suggest that exercise may be particularly effective in helping to reduce insomnia symptoms. Exercise can help to lower the severity of sleep disordered breathing and obstructive sleep apnoea.
The only issue I find with exercise and sleep is exercising too late or right before your bedtime. Majority of us in Australia play sports – competitive and/or social – and we have no control over what time we train and play, which is usually in the evenings. I know that I can’t sleep straight after exercising. And the reasons behind this are the rise of body temperature and the endorphins pumping through my body due to exercising. But, again, everyone is different. So it could affect you differently.
There haven't been many studies on exercise and sleep. So, there is a lot of grey area when it comes to this topic.
But from what we do know, including exercise as a consistent part of your daily routine will help your sleep duration and quality, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve any sleep disorders.
If you do find that you are consistently sleeping less than the recommended 7-9 hours per night, I suggest going to see your GP to find out what else could be going on.