Exercise Before Bedtime: 5 Exercises That Help You Sleep Better
Exercising is not just beneficial to physical well-being. It also plays an important role in mental health.
The regular practice of physical exercise and restful sleep are essential to prevent illness and mental problems.
But there are even those who say that you shouldn't exercise before bedtime. Is it true?
Nowadays, this theory is already challenged because it is possible to exercise before bedtime, without compromising sleep!
What is the effect of exercise on sleep?
O physical exercise stimulates the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that induces sleep. That's why sedentary people take, on average, another 10 minutes to fall asleep. Curious, isn't it?
But the effect of physical exercise don't stop there! It helps to produce other substances (dopamine and beta-endorphin) that will contribute to your feeling of well-being, helping your brain shutting down.
The exercise will cause the deep sleep phase last longer. It is at this point that growth hormone is produced, which is essential for muscle recovery .
How should I exercise?
As per a recent study, the secret is in the time that you exercise and what kind of physical exercise you practice.
Exercising before bedtime can be beneficial for sleep, but it always depends on how early this activity is performed.
In general, do moderate-intensity exercises, 60 to 90 minutes before sleep won't harm your beauty sleep.
But pay attention! If you are an anxious person and tend to have insomnia, you should space this time and exercise, at least, 4 hours before bedtime.
The most important (always!) is not to give up the physical exercise and understand how your body works. Each person has their own sleep needs and preferences.
This all works a bit like coffee. There are people who can't if they drink coffee before bed and there are also those who are not affected by it and are able to have their ultra-sleep nights.
The trick is really knowing what works for you.
What exercises I SHOULDN'T DO?
Just before bed, there are activities you shouldn't do, as they won't let our brain calm down, always remaining awake and alert:
- Long workouts
- HIIT workouts (high intensity interval)
- Strenuous activities
- Competition modalities
- Weight lifting/lifting
One of the reasons these types of exercise can spoil your nights sleep, is because the lactic acid produced during practice can cause pain. And this will increase your restlessness.
Another reason is the production of stress hormone and adrenaline, which are released in greater amounts during intense physical exercise. They will prevent your body from being able to relax and preparing for sleep is a real headache.
What exercises SHOULD I do?
Before going to sleep, you should always favor calmer activities that help you to breathe and relax.
You can even take a hot bath, which will slow your heartbeat, dilate your blood vessels and lower your blood pressure.
Here's what you can do before bed:
All these activities will help you focus on yourself and your needs, calming your body and mind. Physical exercise and mental health go hand in hand with physical health and sleep quality.
Here are some exercises you can do to get a good night's sleep:
Bend the torso forward
- Facing a chair or bench, place a pillow or one blanket folded on the seat
- Fill your chest with air and bring your arms above your head, stretching your spine
- Pour out the air and bend your body forward until your forehead is in contact with the pillow/blanket
- Relax your arms on the pillow/blanket and relax your body
- You should feel your back relaxing and stretching
- Stay in this position for 30 to 60 seconds
Effect: soothes the nervous system and relaxes the back.
- Sit on the floor with your legs straight
- Place your hands on your buttocks, palms down.
- Open your chest and shoulders and slowly lean back on your forearms
- Relax your neck and lower your body until the top of your head touches the floor
- Stay in this position for 30 to 60 seconds
Effect: it helps reduce tiredness and increases the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
Legs on the wall
- Lie on your back on the floor with your legs stretched out against the wall
- Place your arms relaxed at your sides, palms facing up
- If you feel more comfortable, you can put a blanket under your buttocks, leaving them a little farther from the wall
- You should feel the back of your legs stretch
- Stay in this position for 5 to 10 minutes
Effect: redirects blood flow, helps to calm the nervous system and reduce fatigue.
Hug your legs and swing
- Lie on your back on the floor and bring your knees towards your chest, leaving your legs up and your feet pointing towards the ceiling
- From the outside of your legs, grab your feet
- Take your knees a little to the side
- Slowly rock your body from side to side, giving a light back massage
- You should feel your back relaxing more and more
- Do this exercise for 1 to 2 minutes
Effects: releases tension in the lower back and hips, reduces stress and anxiety.
Relax your legs and groin
- Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your arms at your sides, palms up
- Bring the soles of your feet together and open your knees
- If you feel more comfortable, you can put pillows under your knees
- You should feel your inner thighs stretching
- Stay in this position for 2 to 3 minutes
Effects: helps lower blood pressure, slow heart rate and reduce headaches.
These are valuable tips on how to exercise without ruining your nights sleep, which should be the starting point for a day full of energy and mental availability. Try it and have fun, your body will thank you!