Exercise Your Way to A Good Night’s Sleep

Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do to beat insomnia.

If you’re already dog tired from sleepless nights, you may not feel like putting on those trainers and hitting the elliptical machine, but physical activity is one of the best remedies for insomnia.

Working out reduces stress and anxiety, boosts one’s confidence and mood, improves the circulation, and relaxes muscles.

You’ll feel tired after exercising, but it’ll be the right kind of tired — the way you used to feel as a kid after playing the whole day, before you fell effortlessly asleep.

If you’re in a vicious cycle of eating more because you’re tired and depressed, and then feeling more depressed because you are getting fat and unhealthy, a regular workout can help break that cycle, too.

The better you feel about yourself, the better you’ll sleep.

Happy Workouts

If you’re not in the habit of exercising, it can seem like a real schlep. Gym clothes, lockers, getting breathless, and all that bad stuff.

So choose something that is fun and that makes you happy. Take up a new sport (or an old one), or sign up for a class with a friend that you don’t see regularly but would like to.

Note: Before beginning a new exercise routine, you should take a fitness test or consult your physician, especially if you are overweight and/or feel breathless after, say, climbing a flight of stairs.

Exercise Your Way to A Good Nights Sleep

Workout Time

Flight attendants and people who travel a lot often work out upon arrival as a way of postponing the moment they start to crash from jetlag.

Since exercise has a rousing effect, time your workouts for at least four hours before bedtime.

If you suffer from sleep-maintenance insomnia and are awake from an early hour anyway, you may want to use that time at the gym to stave off daytime sleepiness later on.

Otherwise, exercising right after work is often a good way to put the day’s frustrations behind you.

Stress Relief

Many people read while they are on the stationary bike or follow the news on the TV screen in their gym.

For optimal stress reduction, however, it’s best not to engage in such mental activity. You’ll get more out of your workout if you use this time to switch your mind off.

Having said that, working out to music is a great idea. But if your gym plays very loud, noisy music, make sure you have some silent time at home in the evening.

Note: Do not use an MP3 player or iPod if you exercise outdoors near traffic!

A Special Plug For Swimming And Walking

Swimming is an excellent way to work out — it’s relaxing and energizing at the same time.

Whenever I feel stressed about something (and I can’t get hold of my massage therapist), I find that swimming just washes the blues away.

But if you can’t get to a pool regularly, then try walking for 30 minutes to an hour each day. It’s a fantastic way to get yourself outdoors, your blood moving, and your spirits up.

Whenever I walk for exercise, I’m always surprised by the way a sense of peace settles over me unbidden, about 15 minutes in.

If you find you can’t stop thinking about a stressful matter, walking can be a good activity with which to try some mindfulness meditation.

You don’t have to slow down to do this exercise, but as you walk, just train your mind on the way your feet hit the ground, from the moment your heel strikes the ground to when your big toe pushes off.

Open your mind to the sensations you’re experiencing — everything from the sun on your face to the birds singing in the trees overhead.

Don’t Wish Your Workout Over

It’s easy to spend your workout calculating how many more minutes of torture you still have ahead of you.

But this time is yours — a rare moment where you get to be in your physical body and nowhere else.

If your insomnia is stress-related, the value of the time you spend exercising will be greater than the sum of health benefits you are accruing.

So, don’t wish your workout over. Enjoy it while it lasts — and sleep well after.