Sport and sleep can be a tricky one. Doing sport helps you sleep better, but doing too much, particularly at the wrong time, can mess up your natural sleep cycle. IT'S HARD TO FIND THE PERFECT BALANCE. HOWEVER, BY FOLLOWING A FEW SIMPLE RULES, SPORT AND SLEEP WILL GO HAND IN HAND. WE PROMISE THAT BY FOLLOWING OUR ADVICE, YOU'LL SLEEP LIKE A BABY (AS PEOPLE WHO DON'T HAVE A BABY WOULD SAY)!
1. Exercise at the Right Time to Sleep Better
We mentioned in our intro that sport helps you sleep. But only when it's done at the right time of day! In fact, it's generally recommended that you don't do sport less than three hours before going to bed, otherwise you may struggle to drift off.
The reason? It's all about body temperature, which fluctuates throughout the day and drops later in the afternoon to help your body get ready for sleeping. So it logically follows that, when you do sport in the evening, your body temperature stays up.
The best thing is therefore to exercise in the morning or early afternoon. But don't worry, if your only option is to exercise in the evening, there are ways of getting to sleep. These options include the famous cold shower before going to bed which, as well as lowering your body temperature, will relax your muscles.And as your body becomes accustomed to it, doing sport in the evening will no longer be a problem.
2. The Benefits of Sport for Sleep
Having determined the best time of day for doing sport and also getting a good night sleep, you'll soon realise how much better you sleep after exercising.
By doing sport, you'll naturally burn calories (much more than sitting on the sofa all evening), which makes you more fatigued and therefore more sleepy.When you exercise, you'll also release endorphins into your body, which have numerous positive effects including reduced stress and depression, and a greater feeling of well-being. A good night's sleep works wonders for your mind!
3. Which Sports Will Help You Sleep Better?
By doing sport, you will help regulate your body clock. And some sports are better at aiding this than others. One such sport is Nordic walking. Besides working all of your muscle groups, it's generally done in a pleasant environment and stimulates the secretion of hormones. This means you'll be more relaxed and will sleep better.
4. Doing Sport Just for the Fun Of It!
What about doing sport just for the fun of it? You don't necessarily need to have a few extra pounds to lose or someone to impress to take up a sport. You'll do yourself good just by focusing on you and you alone!
This feeling of pleasure will vary according to the sport you choose and your expectations, from getting a thrill from extreme sports and/or a bit of speed, to the satisfaction of improving your performance without comparing yourself against someone else, having fun with friends doing a team sport, etc. You definitely won't be short of these fun times and, after all, it's exactly what you wanted! You can also do running and cycling, which both require a lot of energy.
And why not do some yoga or Pilates to give you a relaxing few moments at the end of the day, particularly if it was a busy one? When done regularly, these activities also help you sleep.
Generally, you should go to bed at fixed times (including at the weekend), eat a balanced diet, and sleep in a decent bed. When you combine these things with sport, you'll be out like a light! If you've got any other tips for sleeping well, feel free to share them in the comments.