Sleep Challenge – Week 2: Move it!

Good Morning, Challengers! Did you sleep like a baby this week?honduras-80837

Our main goal last week was to gather information on how much we are sleeping and if anything effects the quality of our sleep. A tall order for only 7 days, but it is a starting point. I heard from a few of you that you were sleeping less than you thought and a few of you are already using technology to track your sleep. Perfect! We are all here to learn how to get the best quality and quantity of sleep we can.

This week I want to address how our activity level effects our sleep. If you want to sleep longer and sleep deeper, you’ve got to move your body. Ever get snowed in and have a movie day? This year, we had a blizzard in Maryland and movie day turned into movie week. Even with a little shoveling, we found time to exercise because the sluggishness from laying around all day was making our nighttime sleep feel less satisfying. Ever have a busy yard-work day or move a friend and fall into bed at night exhausted but feeling accomplished? We might not be able to have that feeling everyday, but we do need to move our bodies in order to sleep well.

We all know there are many benefits to exercise. I want to outline a few that directly impact the quality of our sleep.
…early in the morning increases the time you spend in the deep stages of sleep. (Exercising late at night can keep you from falling asleep. Continuing to track your patterns can help decide if you should stop exercising 2-3 hrs. before bedtime.)
…routines can carryover into nighttime routines which tell our body, “We’ve had movement, a nourishment, and now its time to rest.”
…helps our hormones. Increasing some (like HGH) and helping to balance others (like the ones that control hunger and alertness).
…releases stress. (Stress hormones rev us up, moving our bodies creates a physical release.)
…can keep us from getting sick. Being ill costs us in many ways and loosing sleep is one of them.
…keeps us fit. A fit person breaths better and has an ideal body fat % which contribute to better sleep.

What is the best exercise? The one YOU will DO!

You have heard me say it before, but in order to exercise consistently you must start somewhere. You know it doesn’t take much: yard work, walking the dog, scrubbing the tub, playing a game, or hitting the gym. I recommend working with a fitness professional to make sure you are working out safely and getting the most from your exercise. The research is overwhelming: if you want better sleep, you’ve got to move it! 

Share your sleep experiences and questions with me this week. I love hearing from you and we all learn better together. I help my clients make behavior changes. If you need help establishing better sleep habits, contact me.