A consistent exercise routine has many health benefits. For starters, it does wonders for overall mental health. Then, there are the physical benefits, from boosting endurance to strengthening muscles, to improving flexibility. But one of the best reasons to keep up with a regular exercise routine is the positive effect it has on your sleep.
Sleep is crucial to your health. The average person will spend almost one-third of their lifetime sleeping, so why not get the most out of it. One way to ensure that you can maximize your sleep, both in quality and quantity, is through consistent exercise.
Ways Exercise Can Help You Maximize Sleep
Here are three (3) reasons to make sleep a priority and how exercise plays an important role.
1. Decreases Sleep Onset
Let’s face it. We have all struggled to fall asleep from time to time, usually tossing and turning for hours on end before finally drifting off to sleep. Unfortunately, this can play a devastating role in our overall sleep quality. Sleep onset, or the time it takes to fall asleep, can be greatly reduced with a consistent routine of moderate to intense exercise. Boxing is a great way to get in a rigorous workout that can reduce the amount of time it takes us to fall asleep. Less time falling asleep means more time for the body to get into a restorative sleep cycle. It’s a win-win!
2. Enhances Restorative and REM Sleep
The two phases of sleep that most of us will experience on a nightly basis are non-REM and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. During non-REM sleep, you will generally go through three (3) different phases:
Stage 1 - Your eyes are closed but you are easily awoken
Stage 2 - You are in a light sleep mode
Stage 3 - You are in a deep sleep mode
During REM sleep, your eyes move rapidly back and forth, hence the name, but no visual information is actually sent to the brain. REM sleep usually occurs 90 minutes into your sleep cycle, and it’s then that your breathing and heart rate quicken. There is an increase in brain activity that is responsible for learning and increased cognitive function.
Non-REM sleep can be just as important as REM sleep for overall health, as it is during the third phase that your body will repair and grow muscle tissues, cells, and bones, as well as strengthen your immune system.
Exercise can have an enhanced effect on both non-REM and REM sleep quality. One study conducted over a 12-week trial showed that maintaining a consistent exercise routine decreased non-REM sleep phase I (light sleep), increased REM sleep, and positively impacted sleep continuity and sleep efficiency.
3. Improves Sleep Quality
We have control over many actions that contribute to our individual health. Diet and exercise both play a key role, but another factor that is just as crucial to our longevity and well-being is sleep quality. Unfortunately, as our lives get hectic and our plans change, one of the first things to suffer is the quality of our sleep.
Conditions such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, chronic inflammation, obesity, compromised immune function, and weight gain have all been linked to poor sleep quality. An analysis looking at three separate studies found that sleeping an average of five hours or fewer per night, on a consistent, long-term basis may increase the risk of mortality by as much as 15 percent.
Luckily getting ample sleep regularly, generally, seven to nine hours, can help stave off those comorbidities and health issues. Good sleep quality allows us to maintain critical bodily functions, restore energy, grow and repair tissues, and have an optimal cognitive function. Sleep should not be a luxury that we take for granted, and instead, we should view it as a biological necessity.
Numerous studies have shown the positive effect exercise can have on an individual's sleep quality, especially as we age. Moderate to vigorous intensity exercise, such as a boxing or kickboxing workout, encourages better sleep quality – and better sleep quality leads to better overall health.
Better Sleep for Better Performance
After an active day and a moderate to intense workout, you’ll be ready for a good night's sleep. Training consistently can help expend extra energy stored up in the body. This helps you fall asleep faster and have a more restful sleep. Now that your body will be able to get into a more restorative state consistently, it has the opportunity to properly recover from your vigorous exercise routines. Sleep is one of the most important aspects of proper recovery, and exercising will make you tired and want to get a good night's sleep.
Sleeping for Success
Sleep is so much more than just the time of day when you are not awake. Sleep has restorative powers on our health and should always be a factor in improving or maintaining our overall well-being. Better sleep means better recovery, and better recovery means better training performance.
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