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Too much caffeine, too much stress, and too many unfinished tasks in a day can lead to a night of tossing and turning. It's tough enough to get a good night's sleep, so, what can you do about it?
One solution may be as simple as setting up a good exercise routine and sticking to it. Combine this with some other health and fitness lifestyle changes, and making some simple and easy to achieve healthy habits and you will double your odds.
Approach your quality sleep like any other part of your health and fitness routine, and give it the same respect as any part of your overall wellness. If you do, it'll make it easier for you to make the commitments necessary to see the changes you're after and to maintain them over the long term.
Let's take a closer look.
Any number of causes can be contributing to your restless nights and trouble getting or staying asleep. And the more complicated the cause, the more help you may need to find the sleep your body is craving. But for those typical changes that most of us face from time to time, life with its many stresses, challenges, and difficulties is cause enough.
Whatever the cause, not getting enough sleep is about a lot more than feeling groggy the next day. Continually coming up short of a healthy night's sleep can cause all kinds of damage to your body.
"Sleep deprivation increases the risk of health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Prolonged sleep deprivation can also affect concentration and other cognitive functions." (sleepfoundation.org, The Connection Between Diet, Exercise, and Sleep | Sleep Foundation)
Your body depends on getting enough sleep to help it recover from the mental and physical stresses of your day. "Sleep offers the body and brain time to restore and recover, affecting nearly every tissue in the body." (sleepfoundation.org, The Connection Between Diet, Exercise, and Sleep | Sleep Foundation). So, if you're not getting enough sleep, your body isn't getting enough restoration to handle the day-to-day stresses coming at it.
How do you address this reality? Exercise.
When it comes to your health, sleep is vital. It's part of the three pillars of health that balance your overall wellness:
"Diet, exercise, and sleep are three pillars of a healthy life. While improving just one of these lifestyle factors can help people lead longer lives, several recent studies have suggested that improving all three may be a better way to improve both physical and mental health" (sleepfoundation.org, The Connection Between Diet, Exercise, and Sleep | Sleep Foundation)
But getting quality sleep isn't a standalone project, it's part of an overall system that each of the other pillars directly and indirectly influence. That's why exercise and diet are an essential part of sleep health, and why sleep health is an essential part of diet and exercise. They all work together as a network.
While each pillar is important, and diet plays as much of a role in getting a good night's rest as exercise, it's exercise that drives this interconnected system and empowers each part to play its role with greater strength and gaining greater results.
"Exercise is a cornerstone of health and benefits nearly every system in the body. Many of the benefits are seen immediately, like reduced anxiety, lowered blood pressure, and better sleep. Consistent exercise offers even more long term benefits, including better weight management, stronger bones, and a reduced risk of more than diseases." (sleepfoundation.org, The Connection Between Diet, Exercise, and Sleep | Sleep Foundation)
The great thing about exercise is that it doesn't take long to see some results. So, if you're dealing with some restless nights and just aren't getting the quality sleep you crave, the right amount of exercise can begin to help you relatively quickly.
"A substantial amount of research has shown that getting regular exercise can improve sleep. Both aerobic exercise (like cardio and running), as well as resistance exercise (like weightlifting) can improve sleep quality" (sleepfoundation.org, The Connection Between Diet, Exercise, and Sleep | Sleep Foundation)
Now we turn to the question of what kind of exercise specifically can help you get that quality sleep you want and need, and just how much exercise is required?
As it turns out, when it comes to the best exercise for sleep, you don't need anything too strenuous to begin to see results. "People who engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise may see a difference in sleep quality that same night." (hopkinsmedicine.org, Exercising for Better Sleep | Johns Hopkins Medicine).
What's more, this approach to aerobic exercise, low-impact and easily accessible as it may sound, can not only increase the quality of your sleep but also help you access deep sleep as well.
"… moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow wave sleep you get. Slow wave sleep refers to deep sleep, where the brain and body have a chance to rejuvenate." (hopkinsmedicine.org, Exercising for Better Sleep | Johns Hopkins Medicine).
The key is consistency and keeping your aerobic exercise accessible. You don't want to go over the top or push yourself too hard, because that kind of exercise just won't last if you're doing it solely to help you sleep better. But keeping it moderate, making it fun, and keeping it easy to do will.
When it comes to your overall health, the sleep you either are or are not getting is essential. Just like a healthy diet and a smart fitness routine, your sleep plays a vital role in every other part of your life.
So, if you aren't getting the sleep you need and want, take a closer look at the other parts of your health and fitness. If you aren't doing regular, moderate, aerobic exercise, could this be the missing piece you need to help you become successful in your sleep endeavors?
Often times the things that challenge us only need us to shift our perspective and act on what we discover. Getting quality sleep requires balance and a shift in perspective. Add some aerobic excise to your daily routines and see what happens.
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