Exercise and Sleep: Timing Is Everything

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Exercise is good for you, and it can help you sleep better. But did you know that the timing of those jumping jacks is just as important?

Is It OK to Exercise Right Before Bed?

Daily exercise should be part of your routine and often aids sleep — but working out too close to bedtime can lead to a restless night. Sleep experts recommend hitting the gym at least two or three hours before going to bed. The ideal time is late afternoon. That gives your body enough time to cool down for comfortable sleep.

For most individuals, exercising right before bedtime can be too activating. Some individuals have a harder time coming down from that exercise-induced high, making it difficult for them to go into their circadian rhythm and go to sleep.

Will Exercise Help Me Sleep Better if I’m Older?

Regular exercise can improve sleep in older adults. In fact, the benefits can be even more important for the elderly since their sleep quality may be compromised to begin with. If you exercise about 30 minutes on most days, sleep quality improves.Exercise and Sleep Timing Is Everything - In Content  

For those 65 and older, better sleep makes a big difference. Even minor sleep problems can lead to a greater risk of accidents, falls, chronic fatigue and decreased quality of life. And more serious sleep problems are linked to cognitive decline, reduced immune function and depression.

Does Exercise Help if I Have Insomnia?

Chronic insomnia is the most common sleep disorder among adults. Insomnia is when you have trouble falling or staying asleep. And it's chronic when it lasts at least three nights a week for more than a month. According to the National Sleep Foundation, studies suggest that exercise significantly improves the sleep of people with chronic insomnia. They fell asleep faster, slept longer and enjoyed better sleep.

For most individuals, exercising right before bedtime can be too activating.

"Exercise and sleep together are the bedrock of good health," says Christopher Lauricella, DO, Family Medicine of Vandalia. "Get a really good workout — and I do mean 45 minutes —and you will be amazed at how much better you sleep that night."

Dr. Lauricella talks about the benefits of exercise.

Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

How can exercise and good sleep work together to create better health?

Exercise and sleep together are the bedrock of good health in some ways because one of the first things I recommend to somebody who is dissatisfied with their quality of sleep is I ask them, ‘Hey are you getting enough exercise, are you getting enough exercise every day? Are you getting a minimum of 45 minutes of aerobic exercise?’ I don’t have too many people who say yes to all these questions actually having difficulty sleeping. I have a teenage boy. He’s a swimmer. It’s wonderful because he’s too tired to get in trouble and he goes to sleep like a rock about anywhere he can. It really is important and it’s one of the first steps you can do on your own without coming to the doctor’s office without paying me co-pay, just go out and really get a good workout and I do mean 45 minutes. You will be amazed at how much better you sleep that night.

Small Steps: Reset Your Body Clock.
Shifting your bedtime a few days before your flight means you’ll be less tired — and more in tune with local time — when you land at your destination.