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Can Working Out Improve Your Sleep Quality?

By Yann, published on 06/03/2018 Blog > Sport > Personal Training > Fitness Training and Sleep Quality

How are you sleeping lately?

Do you wake up feeling well-rested, or is it a struggle to even open your eyes in the morning?

Maybe you’re not aware, but there is a strong link between physical activity and the quality of your sleep.

So, if you’re having trouble sleeping through the night, this may be a sign that you’re not getting enough exercise, and consequently, you could be putting your health at risk.

How can you be on top form if you don’t have enough energy?

Whether you sleep poorly or you just don’t sleep for long enough, there is a large risk to your quality of life and the opportunity to improve it.

With work days becoming even longer, work-related stress and worries about balancing your career with family life, insomnia is becoming more and more common.

There is a solution to this available, but it involves taking medication to force your body into an unnatural sleep.

This is an effective option for many, however, it isn’t without consequence.

Taking sleeping pills can cause problems with appetite, digestion, nausea, and some people even become dependent on them.

So what else should you do?

There is a simple answer for those who want to greatly increase their chances of a restful night’s sleep: exercise.

So, let’s take a look at how following a good personal training program can help you get your sleeping pattern back on track.


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The Sleep Cycle

Before we look at how sport can contribute to sleep, let’s first try to understand the workings of a night’s sleep. After all, we do spend a third of our lives asleep!

Sleep isn’t linear. In actual fact, your body goes through 4-5 sleep cycles per night.

Each cycle represents one stage of your 8-hour sleep.

The main phases of your whole sleep cycle are:

  • Falling asleep: Eye movements slow down, but you are still aware of what is going on around you.
  • Light sleep: Brain waves slow down as you drop into a slightly deeper stage of sleep.
  • Light sleep becomes deep sleep: You become less responsive and it’s harder for you to be woken up. This stage is formed of two sub-stages. This is when the body repairs tissues and builds energy.
  • REM (rapid eye movement) sleep: Your brain it at its most active and dreaming occurs.

Each cycle lasts around 90 minutes, and an average adult takes 5-6 REM cycles every night.

  • Falling Asleep

To fall asleep, your breathing becomes slower, your muscles relax and you become less conscious of your surroundings.

This first phase of sleep is what is usually referred to as being ‘half-asleep’, when people start to experience involuntary muscle twitches and a sensation of falling from a height.

This stage is only very light, so you can be woken up by a noise of some kind.

  • Light Sleep

This stage is not yet deep sleep; however, it is the one that lasts the longest.

You can still be easily awoken by a noise or a light, but you will feel like you have spent some time asleep.

Every stage of the sleep cycle is incredibly important for your physical and mental health Constantly feeling like you’ve only been ‘half-asleep’ is a sign that you’re not well-rested ¦ source: Pixabay – DevoKit

At this point in the cycle, eye and muscle movements slow as well as brain activity.

  • Light Sleep Becomes Deep Sleep

During this phase of the cycle, you fall into a deeper state and you gradually become cut off from the world around you – it’s hard to wake you up.

This is an incredibly important stage, when your body recovers from physical fatigue and repairs any damaged tissue so that you’re fit to face the next day.

  • REM Sleep

The REM stage is where, although you are in a deep phase, you show signs of consciousness such as facial movements, irregular breathing and even talking!

This is the stage at which your brain dreams, and is awake on another level of consciousness.

  • Regulating Your Sleep Pattern

There are two types of sleep regulation. The first is the regulation of the sleep-wake homeostasis which is balanced against the circadian rhythm.

Sleep-wake homeostasis is all about your ability to fall asleep at a given time based on the amount of sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain.

Circadian oscillation is what is commonly referred to as the ‘body clock’ and regulated the body’s internal processes.

The internal body clock is, itself, regulated by the level of light. The level of brightness in an environment affects the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin.

Which Sports are Best for a Good Night’s Sleep?

The best (and healthiest) way to guarantee yourself a restful night’s sleep is to keep active during the day and make sure you take some time to train properly – no matter how busy you are.

Of course, you don’t need to sign up to a marathon or start lifting the heaviest weights at the gym to tire yourself out.

According to an article from MayoClinic, doing between 20 and 30 minutes of exercise per day is enough to sleep well and stay in shape.

The best way to ensure a restful night is to work out 5 to 6 hours before you usually go to bed. If you exercise just before you plan on sleeping, your ability to fall asleep will suffer.

Remember to be careful when it comes to exercising, and remember that not every sport is suitable for the sleep pattern of yourself, your child or even your teenager.

Sleep is a process with the purpose of healing your body and relaxing the tension that builds up with physical activity.

At every training session, whether you’re focusing on resistance training, stretching, or aerobic and cardiovascular ability, your body suffers very minor injuries, and without sufficient time to recover, it will suffer even more during your next workout.

  • The Two Types of Exercise

There are two types of sport: aerobic and anaerobic.

Aerobic activity is also known as cardio training and includes any sport that raises your heart rate and makes your breathing heavier for an extended period of time.

Some sports that come to mind are long-distance running, brisk walking, cycling and swimming.

Anaerobic exercises are usually short and intense as your body uses more oxygen than it can provide from breathing. Anaerobic sports include things like sprinting, yoga, Pilates and weightlifting.

The best kind of workouts to promote sleep and good general wellbeing are aerobic.

This sort of exercise has a positive effect on cognitive function as well as endurance.

Aerobic exercise will tire out your muscles and increase oxygen flow around your body Cardio training will give you the best chance of a restful sleep ¦ source: Pixabay – skeeze

Aerobic sports such as long-distance running, swimming and boxing are known for raising the breathing rates of their athletes along with their heart rates.

Cardio works the heart and lungs, and during vigorous exercise, the rate of oxygen in the blood increases along with lung capacity.

So, to get the best night’s sleep you can, aim for aerobic sports which gently work your muscles so that you become physically and mentally relaxed enough to fall into a slumber.

How a Personal Trainer Can Help You

Launching yourself into a completely new sport or fitness program is never easy, nor is it very motivating to train alone.

If you want to see tangible results in the shortest possible length of time and need some support with the bigger lifestyle changes that go with your training, the best thing to do is call on the help of a personal fitness trainer – an accredited and certified fitness professional with a personal training certification who can apply their knowledge of exercise science to get you the results you’re after.

In order to become a personal trainer, each athlete has to sit tough written and practical exams on various topics such as biomechanics, sports conditioning, exercise physiology, kinesiology, corrective exercise and creating fitness programs to receive their personal trainer certification and begin their fitness career, so you can rest assured you’re in safe hands!

Usually, following your first meeting and fitness assessment with your private fitness coach, the program design process will begin, as they take your physiology, body composition, health and fitness goals and needs into account to provide you with a tailored training plan.

They will also ask you about your current lifestyle to get you on track to a healthier one. This could include questions about your eating habits, level of activity during the day, and of course your sleep.

At each fo your personal training sessions, you’ll be supervised and motivated by your trainer, as they keep an eye on your form, training techniques and how difficult you’re finding the programme, so they can make any adjustments if necessary.

Your personal trainer will tell you all there is to know about training Don’t let the gym intimidate you ¦ source: Pixabay – Pexels

Another benefit of personal fitness training is that your progress is tracked, so you can see how far you’ve come once you finish your private training programme -whether you are aiming for weight loss or just want to live a healthier life.

And if you’re uncertain about anything, your one to one trainer is there to answer questions to make sure you feel relaxed and in-control – and this is what differentiates personal training from training alone at the gym.

Your self-esteem plays a major role in your success, and personal trainers motivate you to focus on your strengths and only grow in confidence so that you have no trouble attending gyms in the future – which is not necessarily the case for those who go it alone.

Of course, hiring a personal fitness instructor costs money, but don’t avoid it as a money-making scheme by the fitness industry – it’s a rewarding investment in yourself!

The benefits you’ll feel, such as feeling more energised, healthy and happier, and sleeping better, far outweigh the financial aspect of personal training.

So, if you have the means, go for it!


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