Exercise can be a sleep aid or can make it more difficult to fall sleep. It all depends on what type of exercise you do and when you do it.
Aerobic exercise is a great way to release stress from the body. Since stress can hinder sleep, you can fall asleep more quickly by getting 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least three days a week.
Some examples of mild to moderate aerobic exercise are: mowing the lawn, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, active playtime with children, and taking a short walk around the block.
Forms of high intensity aerobic exercise include: jogging, skating, swimming, biking, walking on a treadmill, and taking a brisk walk.
Because aerobic exercise stimulates the body, be sure there are at least three hours between the time you exercise and bedtime.
Unlike aerobics, some forms of exercise can aid sleep if they’re done just before bedtime. Tai Chi is a practice in which a series of sequences involving breathing, meditation, and gentle movement promotes relaxation and has been known to improve symptoms of insomnia.
Considered a form of exercise in the West, Yoga nvolves gentle stretching, breathing exercises, and meditation. The practice of yoga has many benefits, including increased circulation to the brain, which promotes deep relaxation and sleep.
An effective relaxation exercise that can promote sleep follows: Lie down on your back and place your arms at your sides. Face your palms upward, and keep your feet slightly apart. Close your eyes. Inhale and exhale slowly. Beginning at your scalp and working your way down to your toes tense and relax the muscles of your body. Empty your mind of stressful thoughts and focus on the air flowing slowly in and out of your body as you breathe deeply. Remain in this relaxing state for several minutes and your body will have released the day’s stresses. You should be ready for sleep.