According to the Sleep Health Foundation more than 20% of Australians get less than the recommended 7-9 hours sleep a night. Poor sleep is a burden on our health and can be associated with medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, heart disease and even depression. When we lack sleep, our bodies feel it – day-to-day activities become hard, our motivation decreases and finding time to exercise? Well…. nope, poof, gone, vanished.
But maybe exercise is the answer…
More than half of people who lack sleep seek treatment, and they’ll often be prescribed a drug that has poor efficacy and adverse risks with long-term use. Those who don’t seek treatment will buy over the counter sleeping aids or turn to alcohol to help get those extra ‘ZZZs’. Let me assure you, neither are effective or healthy in the long run.
Various studies have clearly demonstrated that middle-aged adults that suffer from poor sleeping patterns can improve the quality of their sleep with exercise and without the use of prescription drugs or over the counter sleeping aids.
Put simply – exercise is the antidote to those long sleepless nights.
In terms of using exercise to prevent sleep problems – more study is needed, however there is some god scientific evidence out there that the maintenance of cardiorespiratory fitness during middle-age could counteract the risks of developing sleep problems in later age.
Here are some tips for a better night’s sleep
- Participate in 30 minutes of low to moderate activity each day
- Join your local fitness class such as a Boot Camp, Personal Training, Yoga, Pilates or even a walking group.
- Avoid high intensity exercise within less than 4 hours before bed – the body’s core temperature needs to cool down before sleep.
- Supplement your physical activity efforts with a balanced diet.
So if you are having trouble sleeping – get moving! It only takes 4% of your day to complete a 30-minute workout.
Lopez, M. (2008) Exercise and Sleep Quality. Exercise and its Mediating Effect on Cognition, 9(2)131-146
Dishman, R. Sui, X. Church, T. Kline, C. Youngstedt, S. Blair, S. (2015) Decline in Cardiorespiratory Fitness and Odds of Incident Sleep Complaints. Journal of Med. Sci. Exerc. 47(5) 960-966