The best time of day to exercise
Several types of exercise, including vigorous, cardiovascular workouts, and more gentle exercise can help induce relaxation. The former kind can trigger the release of the stress hormone cortisol, which is widely associated with the fight or flight syndrome, and readies you for action.
When you are preparing to sleep, you don’t want your mind and body to be in a state of high alert, as this is likely to keep you awake. Experts recommend that you don’t engage in an energetic workout late in the evening, but instead, practice mindful exercise involving moderate stretches at such a time. It’s best to workout energetically in the morning, or at lunchtime.
Why exercise can help you sleep
Exercising can be beneficial for you if you are experiencing sleep problems, as it will help balance your internal body clock, also known as your circadian rhythm. When your body clock is set correctly it will inform your system to provide you with energy during the day, and wind down in the evening so that you can sleep soundly at night. Exercising too late in the day, or not at all, can send the wrong signal to your body clock and make it incompatible with your needs.
Gentle stretching before bedtime
There are several great yoga exercises that are said to help reduce sleep problems, including the “cobbler’s pose”, the “child’s pose” and the “legs up the wall pose”. In addition, deep belly breathing and meditation can help you relax in readiness for sleep.
Tai chi is another useful form of mindful exercise that can help with sleep difficulties, as it can reduce drowsiness during the day and help create a balance between the energy of your mind and body.
If you don’t usually sleep well, it’s likely that you don’t feel like exercising, as you don’t have much energy. However, slowly building up an exercise routine can help you gain energy, balance your body clock, and inform your system when to begin to relax in the evening.