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Exercise And Sports: Does Running Help You Sleep Better?

Learn why running might help you sleep better. Discover how regular exercise can improve your overall health and how you can sleep better.

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We all know that working out is good for your health. When you work out, you are actually caring about your physical and mental health. Working out is excellent both for your body and mind, plus it can help you sleep better at night.

Although regular exercise can boost your health, you shouldn’t exercise too late, because it can interfere with your sleep.

Scientists are still debating about the best time when you should exercise, but one is for sure – exercising too late will mess up your sleep.

On the other hand, some people prefer working at midnight, and it won’t interrupt their sleep. We are all individuals, and different habits might affect us all differently. Now, let’s see how exercise may help you sleep.

How Regular Exercise May Help You Sleep

Researchers know that exercise helps you sleep better, and no one can exactly explain why this is the case.

No one completely understands it. What we know is that moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow-wave sleep you get.

As you may know already, slow-wave sleep refers to deep sleep, where the brain and body have a chance to rejuvenate.

On top of that, exercise can help you stabilize your mood and relax your mind, which is why a cognitive process is important for naturally transitioning to sleep.

The Timing of Exercise Matters

Some runners prefer running at night over running during the daylight. This may be the case for many reasons, including a tight morning and daily schedule, energy level, and the weather, of course, as an external factor.

Some people find that running close to bedtime seems to keep them up at night, while others claim that it helps them sleep better. Is timing really that important?

It turns out that what you exercise and when can affect your sleeping habits and sleep quality. Here is how.

Aerobic Exercise Causes The Body To Release Endorphins

Endorphins can create a level of activity in the brain that can actually keep some people awake.

If you are one of these people, you should exercise at least 1 to 2 hours before going to bed. This way, you will give endorphin levels time to wash out and the brain time to wind down.

Exercise Also Raises Your Core Body Temperature

To some people, exercising is like having a hot shower. If a hot shower wakes you up in the morning, you are into this group – a good exercise can wake you up quickly in the morning.

The human body is a perfect organism, and as such, it can wake up itself when elevation in core body temperature signals its time to wake up.

After about 30 to 90 minutes, the core body temperature starts to fall. The decline helps to facilitate sleepiness.

As you can see, everyone reacts differently to exercise; to some, the time when they exercise matters, while to others, time plays no factor.

You may even say that’s how they are built – early in the morning or close to bedtime, they will always see a benefit to their sleep.

The trick is to know your body well and understand how it works and what feels good when you exercise.

Any doctor would tell you to work out whenever you can and make it a regular thing.

How Much Exercise You Need for Better Sleep

Based on available studies, scientists claim that exercise is mandatory for better sleep; even if you have long walks, it helps.

The good news is that people who engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise may see a difference in sleep quality that same night.

Scientists also agree that heavy exercise before bedtime can be less than beneficial, so for a start, you might avoid exercising so late, unless it really fits you perfectly.

As with any other change, it can take months, if not years, to see a clear benefit.

You don’t have to force yourself to train for a marathon to sleep better. You can become better sleep with a 30-minutes long work out daily.

If running is your cup of tea, great – you should run! If you prefer any other sport, but you have heard that running can help the most – don’t do it. Always choose a sport that fits you the best and offers what you need.

By choosing an exercise you actually like, the higher are the chances for you to stick with it.

For example, an active yoga class can elevate your heart rate and help you create specific biological processes in the brain and body that can actually contribute to better quality sleep.

You must exercise, be active, and what type of exercise you practice shouldn’t be an issue as long as you practice a sport you enjoy and love. With consistency, the results will come, including better sleep.

Now, let’s see how running can actually help you sleep better.

Benefits And Tips For Running At Night

If you are a passionate runner already or are thinking about becoming one, you should know about the link between running and sleep.

1. Encourages Healthy Choices

Running at night can help you eat healthier through the day and sleep better at night.

When you know that you will run that day, you will naturally care about your food choices. You don’t want to eat fatty food before your run – you want food that will be digested easily.

If you prefer running on an empty stomach, you should probably switch to light and easy to digest food. If this is the case, fatty and fried food should be out of your reach.

Plus, when you know that you will run, you might avoid alcohol as well, during dinner.

Alcohol and coffee and mess up with your body’s natural flow, so you might think about switching to herbal teas, fresh juice, or even coconut water for more pleasant runs.

2. You Will Have More Time

Have you ever heard that saying – more obligations equals better organization? In a way, this is true because the busy schedule can force you to plan better and prioritize above anything else.

If you have a busy schedule and want to run, you may cut something that’s not important to you, and this way, you will have more time.

Plus, night runs are great if you can’t cut anything from your schedule. This way, you might even have a more relaxing morning, as long as you get enough sleep.

Know how much sleep you need based on your age and stick to it, make it your priority. Also, when running at night, you might have fewer distractions and interruptions.

3. Relieve Stress From The Day

Running allows you to restart easily. Ending your day with physical activity is a great way to drift to sleep and have a fresh start. You will go to bed and wake up with that intense feeling of achievement.

Running gives you the chance to release the tension, push the stress away, and let frustrations go.

Plus, running promotes better health. It can lower your blood pressure, ease muscular tension, and even enable a sense of calm.

In some cases, it can lower the anxiety and activate mindful awareness.

4. Running Can Warm You Up

Running can help your entire body warm-up.

If your body, muscles, and joints are more stiff and inflexible, nighttime runs can help you shake your body. It’s important to start slow, as the body may not be ready immediately for intense exercise.

Plus, small steps can build consistency that will always bring results in the long run.

On top of that, running can help you have better muscle control and coordination at night, as well.

5. You Will Sleep Better

Last but not least, with regular nighttime runs, you will sleep better. People who exercise at night may experience more deep sleep. People who exercise should fall asleep faster as well.

Night runs are perfect for people who feel tired after running since it will push them to go to bed faster.

Scientists are fascinated with a link between sleep and running, that they conduct a study in 2019, where they concluded how beneficial exercising is on sleep.

Just be careful because exercising less than an hour before you go to sleep may negatively affect your established sleep patterns.

To avoid negative effects, you should think about taking a hot shower or bath after your run, have tea, and let your body and mind unwind.

Your Body Needs Time To Adjust To Working Out

So far, we all know that regular exercise can improve your sleep and help you sleep through the night.

As long as you are realistic and willing to take small steps, you can expect great results.

Remember that it takes four months for your body to get used to the increased activity level.

So, if a workout routine doesn’t work at first, don’t feel discouraged – it just takes time. At first, you might feel like you need longer to fall asleep, but that is just your body getting used to different kinds of stress.

Physical exercise stimulates the autonomic nervous system, and until it settles down, you can’t sleep. Simply said, your body needs time to adjust to the training stimulants.

The Bottom Line

There are no strict rules when it comes to running. You can run at any time of the day.

You can also run every day if it works for you. It’s just important not to overdo it. Take into consideration the pros and cons of running at night, and see what works for you the best.

If morning run fits you the best, then stick to it. If nighttime run fits you better, then stick to it. It all comes down to your preferences.

To make things more manageable, create a training plan. Have clear and attainable goals, whether you want to improve your mental health, strength, or weight management.

Most importantly – stay consistent in your approach to maximize results. Reflect on your week and reevaluate your goals every few weeks, and adjust accordingly if needed.

Listen to your body and take time off to rest when necessary.

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