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April 07, 2017
WHEN YOU GO to the doctor about trouble sleeping, the first suggestion is often to start an exercise routine.
A sedentary life can paradoxically make resting that much harder, and exercise helps to set your body’s routines straight. Fortunately, you can improve your sleep and your health by participating in National Walk to Work Day. Just make sure that you do the right kind of exercise, at an ideal time.
Getting regular exercise has a number of health benefits, including weight maintenance or weight loss, improved energy and mood, and a decreased risk of certain health disorders. It should come as no surprise that exercising several days a week also helps you to get to sleep more easily and sleep better when you do. Studies show that moderate exercise raises your temperature slightly, sending a signal to your body that you are ready for action. This is perfect for the morning, when you need to get up and go. Exercise also lowers your risk of developing conditions that affect your sleep quality, such as sleep apnea.
Although getting a few good rounds of any kind of exercise each week is likely to return some benefits, moderate exercise is key to treating sleep disorders like chronic insomnia. Inability to get to sleep or stay asleep is connected to other health problems, like anxiety or depression. Since exercise is widely known to help stabilize mood, it makes perfect sense that exercise helps you reframe your life when you need to settle for sleep.
However, not every kind of exercise makes a big difference. Research demonstrates that even one session of moderate exercise, such as walking, helps people struggling with insomnia to fall asleep in less time and get more sleep. Doing other kinds of exercises, including running and weight-lifting, did not yield the same kind of immediate benefit.
Some people will tell you that you should never exercise in the last hour or two right before bed, because the increase in temperature and heart-rate will get your mental engine running too quickly to settle down. While this can be true for a lot of people, the claim is somewhat exaggerated. However, experts suggest that the best times for exercise in general, especially as it relates to your sleep routine, is in the early morning and the mid-afternoon. After you wake up, some good morning exercise prepares your body for the busy day ahead. Taking a walk home from work in the mid-afternoon leads to a temperature drop a few hours later, triggering sleepiness and ensuring a better night’s rest.
National Walk to Work Day is a fun, unofficial holiday that encourages you to walk for better health. In the United States, it is typically celebrated on the first Friday in April. For 2017, it falls on April 7. The celebration originally began as an effort by the American Heart Association to inspire people to get outdoors and active once the snow and ice melt away. If it translates into higher-quality shut-eye, you have no excuse not to give it a try.
Curing insomnia might be as simple as lacing up your walking shoes and heading out a few times a week. This April 7, you can discover how good walking can be for your sleep.