Beauty rest, shuteye, hitting the hay – no matter what you call sleep, it’s vital for functioning at a high level, promoting productivity, and maintaining overall health and well-being. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults age 26-64 require approximately 7-9 hours of sleep per night to function at an optimal level; but for those of us that just can’t seem to make it to slumberland, quality of life may leave something to be desired. Prolonged sleep deprivation can result in a myriad of problems including heart failure, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
People look to their workouts to drop extra pounds, maintain heart health, and boost their mood – courtesy of that beloved endorphin rush. Did you know that exercise is also beneficial for helping you catch that elusive Zzzs? Many studies have proven that sweating it out can prevent chronic insomnia, which is defined as a lack of nonrestorative sleep, difficulty falling or staying asleep, or awakening too early in the morning.
Don’t think this means you need to run a marathon to initiate better sleep habits; in fact, over-doing it can have an adverse effect. After about 4 to 24 weeks of moderate-intensity exercise, participants in a sleep study had longer and better-quality sleep. Even as little as a 10-minute walk can work wonders for maintaining a healthy sleep cycle; it may also prevent the onset of Restless Legs Syndrome and Sleep Apnea. About 2-3% of American adults suffer from Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) – the sensorimotor disease characterized by a persistent urge to move one’s legs. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to insomnia, most sleep studies focusing on this subject tote the benefits of at least 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week.
Whether you’re planning to pound the pavement or swim laps as a tactic to doze off, you may want to rethink the time of day you exercise. We’ve all experienced the energy rush & outpouring of endorphins that follow a rigorous gym routine, but that metabolic burst can actually make you jittery when you turn in for the night. Rising with the figurative rooster to start your daily burn session can be beneficial for resetting your circadian rhythm, or “sleep-wake cycle” – when the body’s internal temperature rises for a time and then levels out again. Because the body can require up to 6 hours to “cool down” after exercising, it’s recommended to try a morning workout, or at least 3-4 hours prior to turning in for the night.
Humans typically respond better to consistent sleep habits. Before turning to sleeping pills, consider the risks they pose. They’re not a long-term solution; in addition to losing their potency after your body becomes accustomed to them, they can be a precursor to infections, a loss of balance, and dementia for those in old age.
If you’re suffering from a lack of quality sleep, pay a visit to a reputable sleep medicine physician. As a board-certified sleep medicine specialist practicing exclusively in this field, Dr. Jeannine Gingras and her team will put you on the road to a restful night’s sleep. Her practice offers all the necessary tools for superior sleep service care. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call her office at 704-944-0562.