That’s impossible! How could exercise possibly cause insomnia?
Wearing yourself out may feel similar to being sleepy, but is definitely not the same thing. It has been shown that strenuous evening workout regimes, too close to bedtime, may cause insomnia due to elevated adrenalin levels and elevated body temperature. Because exercise is stimulating you ideally want to finish it 3 to 4 hours before you go to bed to help your mind and body get the signal that it is time to be unstimulated, relaxed and ready for rest.
Exercise elevates your body temperature temporarily up to 2 degrees and then drops it down again a few of hours later. Without exercise our body temperature naturally drops down in the evening anyway, which is one of our body’s signals to itself to sleep. Exercising too close to bed-time can mean you are delaying this natural drop from happening.
So…. I should be exercising to help me sleep then?
Yes! Exercising 3 to 4 hours before bed will mean the temperature drop off from exercising will be in better sync with your bodys natural sleep temperature drop off, and can even enhance it to help you sleep better.
What type of exercise will help me sleep?
Moderate aerobic exercise seems to have the best results for sleeping. Aerobic exercises are those that increase your heart rate and oxygenate your blood. These include running, walking, biking and dancing. Try to exercise 3 to 4 times a week for 30 minutes. Non-aerobic exercising such as yoga and tai chi that focus on breathing are also beneficial. They promote relaxation, which is also good for sleep.