However, you will have to be patient, because regular exercise leads to improvements in sleep gradually over time and not right away.
The benefits of regular exercise are endless - reduction of stress and anxiety, lowered risk for many diseases, more positive mood and enhanced immune function. Studies also show that daily exercise improves sleep quality.
In a recent study carried out at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, scientists looked at the effects of exercise on sedentary women and men in their 60s who had been diagnosed with insomnia.
Overall, those who participated in a 16-week exercise program slept longer and woke up less often than those who remained inactive. Insomnia only improved after 16 weeks of regular exercise. On the other hand, when the volunteers slept poorly, their workouts the next day were significantly shorter.
In this study, volunteers were randomly assigned either to remain inactive or to participate in a moderate endurance exercise program - consisting of three or four 30-minute exercise sessions every week, generally on a stationary bicycle or treadmill.
At the end of 16 weeks, volunteers in the exercise group were sleeping much more soundly than they had been before the study started. However, during the first two months, they did not sleep any better than at the start of the study. Only after four months of the exercise program had elapsed did their insomnia improve.
Most interestingly, volunteers almost always exercised for shorter periods of time on the days after a poor night’s sleep. In other words, sleeping badly tended to shorten the next day’s workout. On the other hand, a full-length exercise session did not necessarily mean more and better sleep at night.
This study seems to indicate that people with insomnia and other sleep disturbances are wired differently. They may have an overstimulated stress system - and a single bout of exercise may not be enough to dampen it.
However, if they keep up the exercise program, their stress system eventually quiets down and their stress response gradually becomes muted. In general it takes some time before they see any noticeable changes in sleep patterns.
Still, experts believe there’s enough evidence from this study to make it worthwhile for everyone - including you - to commit to a more active lifestyle to achieve better sleep, so why not start today?
Source: Exercise Can Help You Sleep Better.