Engaging in any physical activity is important for our health. What about the things we do outside of the gym that is equally important for our overall wellbeing? “Your lifestyle is also affected by what you drink, eat, and especially how you sleep,” says Shobana Mahansaria, Director of Core Fit Plus and Aroma Thai Spa. In order to maximize health and fitness, diet, exercise, and recovery are all important. The amount of sleep you get directly impacts your diet!”
This certainly clarifies that sleep affects everything else that you do for your health. So why compromise on this one aspect! “The most common reason we struggle to fall asleep is due to anxiety or stress. This is because when a person doesn’t get enough sleep, their body will over-produce the hunger-causing hormones ghrelin and leptin,” explains Mahansaria. Exercise is a cornerstone of health; regular exercise can reduce stress levels by lowering the body’s cortisol levels. “This allows us to fall asleep faster and be less restless throughout the night. Some of the benefits are seen immediately, like lowered blood pressure, reduced anxiety, and better sleep,” she adds.
Have you noticed that you aren’t as physically active as you used to be? Or maybe you haven’t been sleeping as well this past year since the COVID-19 pandemic? “There are several reasons for both, and studies have been extensively going on to investigate and understand the relationship between exercise and sleep. It has been found that physical activity increases the amount of deep sleep, the most restorative phase of the sleep cycle,” says Mahansaria.
So if you want to fall asleep faster and wake up feeling well-rested, the simple thing to do, as it sounds, is to get moving! “Just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise such as swimming, jogging, walking, or cycling, can dramatically improve the quality of your sleep. On the other hand, high-intensity workouts have been shown to make sleep worse,” says Mahansaria.
Most importantly, while you sleep, the pituitary gland releases growth hormone, which helps the body repair and restores itself, preparing it for the next day. So be sure to take the best care of yourself by getting regular exercise and investing in the quantity and quality of sleep you get.