Hand In Hand: Exercise And Sleep

Why “hand in hand?” In my experience, you really can’t have great sleep, consistently, without regular exercise. If, on the other hand, you regularly exercise without getting adequate sleep. you’re in trouble. But, what if you’re having trouble with both areas already? It’s not easy to start an exercise routine when you’re exhausted, right?

Sleep is never a problem for my dog.

Sleep is never a problem for my dog.

I recently did a presentation about energy issues, which of course includes sleep issues. So I’ve been reading up on sleep. So many things can ruin a good night’s sleep! I found quite a bit of good material on overcoming these problems (on the internet). The subject is simply too big to tackle in one blog post. Still, here are just a few general tips for improving sleep:

1) Set a regular bedtime, develop a routine, and stick with it, even on weekends. Also, arise at about the same time every morning, even on weekends or days off.

2) Honor the circadian rhythm, a 24-hour cycle of biological function that follows the natural daylight/night darkness pattern. People, animals, even microbes are subject to this rhythm, but humans actually try to deny it, which causes all sorts of problems. Get sunlight in the daytime, keep it dark and go to bed at night.

3) Turn off the tech gadgets at least 1 hour before bed. The blue light from cell phones, computers, T.V. and such interferes with the melatonin production cycle.

Even light from your clock can be a problem.

Even light from your clock can be a problem.

4) Control blood sugar. A big dip in blood sugar can wake you up. If you struggle with this, try eating a little protein an hour or so before bed. Also, eat within one hour of rising in the a.m. to prevent adrenaline from kicking in. Eventually, work toward minimizing sugars and eating well for your metabolic type so that you don’t have this trouble, and don’t have to eat so close to bedtime.

5) Here it is: exercise. Don’t do it too close to bedtime, however, since exercise stimulates endorphins and increases circulation, which can make you feel more awake.

So what type of exercise should you do? It depends on what your current state of health is, and a few other individual factors. The wisest experts used to say that unless you were getting your heart rate up to a certain point at least 3 times a week, you were wasting your time. Current research shows that’s not the case.

Lee volleyball

If you’re not active and struggling with excess weight, take it easy to start. This is especially true if you have high blood pressure or other serious concerns. But do start! Sometimes aqua fitness, swimming, or yoga is a good way to begin. Even just walking with a bit of stretching can help. Consult with a professional therapist or trainer to find a clear, personalized recommendation.

I like some of Dr. Mercola’s material on fitness. He tends to speak more to folks who already are in pretty good shape. This is from one of his recent articles:

“Compelling and ever-mounting research shows that the ideal form of exercise is short bursts of high intensity exercise. Not only does it beat conventional cardio as the most effective and efficient form of exercise, it also provides health benefits you simply cannot get from regular aerobics, such as a tremendous boost in human growth hormone (HGH), aka the “fitness hormone,” which is essential for optimal health, strength and vigor.”

You don’t want to overdo with your exercise, either. I have certainly been guilty of this in the past, and now I am much more careful. According to this article (10 Signs You’re Exercising Too Much” – click here to read it) in U.S. News,

“Overdoing your workouts can actually lead to diminished strength and increased body fat—your body’s way of begging for a break. ”

And, it can also contribute to insomnia. I know this can seem confusing! We’re all after the ever-illusive perfect balance. If you manage to attain it, please let me know how you did it!

Joel dancing

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