Sufficient sleep and the right dose of exercise make us healthier and more efficient. Find out here how you should structure your training session in order to sleep really well!
Table of Contents
- How does exercise affect sleep?
- The decisive factors - #1 The right time
- The crucial factors - #2 The right intensity
- The main thing is to keep moving
How does exercise affect sleep?
Good sleep is important so that we can start the next day fresh and efficient. Regular physical activity improves the quality of your sleep. Regular exercise has a positive effect on falling asleep and, according to a recent study, even improves sleep quality by up to 65%!
Especially those who have only occasional or very slight problems falling asleep or staying asleep can benefit from moderate and regular physical activity. Even just 30 minutes of physical activity about 4 hours before going to bed has a positive effect on sleep patterns. These were the results of smartsleep founder Dr. Markus Dworak in a scientific study he conducted at the German Sport University in Cologne. The subjects fell asleep more quickly in the nights after exercise, had a higher proportion of deep sleep and a generally improved sleep quality. Sport and sleep are therefore in a healthy interrelationship.
The reason for the positive effects is primarily the positive effects of physical activity on the metabolism and the messenger substances in the muscles and brain. But when is exercise really conducive to sleep?
The decisive factors for sleep-promoting sport
#1 The right time
In order to have a positive effect on sleep behavior, the timing of exercise is crucial. Exercise and exertion boost the cardiovascular system and metabolism and have a positive and even stimulating effect on our nervous system. Intensive exercise just before going to bed is therefore not advisable and can have a negative effect on falling asleep.
Sports scientists from ETH Zurich have evaluated 23 studies. Their result: Those who train intensively less than an hour before going to bed actually run the risk of taking longer to fall asleep and getting less sleep.
For an acute positive effect on sleep, moderate training sessions 2-4 hours before bedtime are therefore recommended. Those who exercise regularly also show better sleep patterns in general. With regular training, sports units in the morning or in the morning are also useful.
Tip: Complete intensive training units in the morning or in the morning and relax in the last hour before bed.
#2 The right intensity
Heavy loads strain us mentally and physically and therefore require a longer recovery phase. The closer the physical activity is to bedtime, the lower the intensity should be so that body and mind can calm down and fall asleep relaxed.
Moderate endurance training, such as cycling, jogging or walking, is ideal for being active in the evening and improving the quality of sleep at night. On the other hand, intensive strength training should be avoided.Competitive team sports also stimulate the body too much in the evening hours and have a negative effect on falling asleep and the quality of sleep
Tip: In the evening go for a moderate jog or a relaxing yoga session.
The main thing is to move
For our health and our sleep, it is ultimately important that we are active at all. We can already contribute to our health and a good night’s sleep with short or less intensive exercise units, because “a good combination of sleep, sport and a healthy diet are not only the central building blocks for physical performance, but also for health and well-being”, says sleep expert Dr. Markus Dworak.
Sleep promotes regeneration and athletic performance, while regular exercise improves sleep quality and falling asleep
Sports activity at moderate intensity a few hours before going to bed has a positive effect on falling asleep, sleep quality and the proportion of deep sleep
The best time for more intensive sports units is in the morning and in the morning, while moderate endurance sports should be primarily practiced in the evening before going to bed
Alexandra Kredlow, Michelle C Capozzoli, Bridget A Hearon, Amanda W Calkins, Michael W Otto; "The effects of physical activity on sleep: a meta-analytic review" in Journal of Behavioral Medicine Issue 3/2015. Link
Jan Stutz, Remo Eiholzer, Christina M. Spengler: Effects of Evening Exercise on Sleep in Healthy Participants: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis in Sports Medicine, Issue 2/2019. Link
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