How to Balance Exercise and Sleep
Biking, jogging, lifting weights, dancing, or aerobics---these are just some of the many ways people exercise to stay fit. However, exercising regularly isn’t enough; in fact, too much exercising can be harmful. In addition to a balanced diet, you need to pair hard exercise with adequate sleep. Meanwhile, the way to balance exercise and sleep is sleeping at least 8 hours, as needed by a healthy adult.
Now, you may wonder why sleep is so important; after all, you’re just lying there and relaxing. Well, it’s pretty simple. As you sleep, your body becomes incredibly active repairing itself from all the stresses, injuries, and damages it incurred while you’re awake.
For example, no matter how much a bodybuilder works out, his muscles wouldn’t bulk up if he has inadequate sleep. That’s because it’s during his sleep when his sore muscles heal. And because the body doesn’t want to injure itself again, it adds another layer of muscles to reinforce the existing muscles. This layering is what builds big, impressive muscles.
As you can see, it doesn’t matter how much you exercise. Insufficient sleep can hamper athletic performance.
Equalizing Sleep and Exercise
How do you find an ideal balance of exercising and sleeping to achieve optimal health? Here are a few pointers:
Pick the best mattress
There’s no doubt that getting the perfect mattress for a good night’s sleep is incredibly important. Much of the quality of your sleep depends on your mattress. A comfortable bed gives you the best relaxing and reinvigorating sleep each night, while a bad one leaves you with interrupted sleep, body pains, and a bad disposition upon waking up.
Each brand usually has its own mattress picking guide. Use these guides to help you pick the best mattress for you.
Exercise several hours before bedtime
Exercising can cause exhaustion, allowing you to fall asleep quicker and attain a better quality of sleep. However, you shouldn’t do heavy exercises too late at night. Doing so increases your body temperature, and the adrenaline gives your mind a certain “high.” These two factors prevent you from falling asleep.
As a rule of thumb, you should do your exercise sessions 3 to 4 hours before bedtime. This gives your body time to cool down and get ready for sleeping.
Stick to an exercise-sleep routine
Your body is naturally wired to “remember” routines. As thus, follow and stick to a routine. For example, you may want to head off to the gym an hour or two after mid-day so you can sleep early at 9 PM. If that works for you, stick to that routine every day. You’ll feel reinvigorated after lunch and begin to feel drowsy as 9 PM draws near.
Exercise in the morning
Fitness experts suggest that you perform your exercises as part of your morning routine. Doing so boosts your energy level and alertness. You’ll be productive all throughout the day. At the end of the day, you’ll probably feel exhausted, ready to hit the bed for some sweet sleep.
Turn electronics off
Do you always look at your gadgets to check your next day’s exercise program, how far you ran today, how many calories you burned, and so on? Switch them off. Too much exposure to artificial light from smartphones, tablets, laptops, and TV inhibits the natural release of melatonin. Melatonin is the primary hormone that regulates your body’s sleep-wake cycle. Less melatonin means it’s harder for you to fall asleep.
Switch off your gadgets or TV half an hour to 45 minutes before bedtime. Rather than using light-emitting devices, read something such as a fitness magazine, an athletic journal, or a novel.
Eat a light meal a few hours before bed
Many people forego eating after dinner or even skipping dinner entirely, believing that doing so increases their weight. However, recent studies show that ingesting nutritious food (especially protein-packed food) before bedtime is actually healthy. The protein is synthesized during sleep and helps build muscles more effectively.
Listen to your body
Your body has an innate way of telling you what it needs. Thus, always consider what you feel. For example, if you feel unusually lethargic even though you’re supposed to work out in the gym at a particular time, then obey your body and have a rest. Perhaps you were not adequately rested last night. Perhaps you worked out too intensely during the past few days, and your body wants to take a break.
Don’t drink alcoholic beverages before bedtime
Some people chug some beer or wine before sleeping to feel drowsy. While it often works, health experts dissuade people to do this. For one, alcohol hampers muscle growth and decreases testosterone levels. Two, alcohol can disrupt your sleep-wake cycle. Three, alcohol dehydrates you as it metabolizes alcohol.
All these internal activities interrupt your sleep, causing you to wake up in the morning tired, irritable, and perhaps suffering from a hangover.
Take the right medicines
If you are a particularly active individual, you might have trouble sleeping. Visit your doctor and see if he can recommend some sleep aids. Melatonin, antihistamine, Ambien, and other doctor-prescribed sleep medication are generally effective in the short-term. Note, however, that in the long term, they can be habit-forming.
Get out of bed
If all else fails, don’t twist and turn on your mattress all night long. The energy you use in trying to sleep may actually be preventing you from drifting into unconsciousness. Instead, get off your bed and do something that relaxes you---reading a book, working on a scale model, or some other quiet activity to help you calm down. Try not to think too much of things and situations that keep you stressed.
A good, healthy life revolves around balance. Too much of everything, even a good thing such as exercise, can be detrimental to your health and well-being. As such, it’s important to compensate for your hard work with a good quality of rest.
From picking the perfect mattress for a good night's sleep to sticking to getting off from bed to ward off stressful thoughts, these tips should help you snooze tight each night so your body can rejuvenate itself.