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Exercise for Better Sleep and Fitness Performance

Exercise for Better Sleep and Fitness Performance

According to a simple behavioural definition, sleep is a reversible behavioural state of perceptual disengagement from an unresponsiveness to the environment. Sleep is made up of 4 stages that are cycled through multiple times a night. Short sleep and sleep deprivation occur when the requirements for these stages are not fully met during a single night’s sleep. These issues are very prevalent among the industrial and working population and may affect up to 30% of adults. Many factors can affect one’s ability to get the right amount of sleep including work demands, social needs and health issues such as insomnia and sleep apnoea. There are many ways to improve on sleep and one of these ways is exercise.

Image to show what sleep deprivation can look like.

Sleep Deprivation

When it comes to sleep and exercise, if both are conducted well, work to improve each other. It has been found that regular exercise was commonly found to promote overall sleep, meaning that good sleeping habits and moderate physical activity could be mutually beneficial and trigger a virtuous cycle that improves fitness and vice versa.


Conducting regular exercise is critical for those looking to develop their sleep quality. It is important, because it is vital for high levels of mental and physical performance. Getting the right amount of sleep each night has been found to enrich general wellbeing, recovery processes and prevents exercise induced diseases. Therefore, Participation in an exercise training program has moderately positive effects on sleep quality.


So how much sleep do you need? Unfortunately, there is no magic number as it varies from person to person. Despite this, the average number for adults is at least seven to eight hours; anything less can constitute as sleep deprivation. A big problem of getting less than this is over a long period of time, is it greatly increases the risk of many health problems.


 What are the benefits?


Sleep is a vital human process, long periods are essential for the body to grow muscle, repair tissue and synthesise hormones. Not only this, it allows our brains to consolidate our memories by processing and storing information learned during the day. Moderate aerobic exercise has been found to increase the amount of deep sleep you get, which is critical for these processes to occur. During this deep sleep the body rejuvenates and recovers. Along with this, sleep is essential to stabilise your mood and decompress the mind. Those with issues such as sleep apnoea and insomnia, which affects 1 in 4 adults, have been found that when taking part in regular exercise have vastly improved the quality of sleep, therefore, it is often recommended by therapists as a solution. Training styles such as powerlifting, and yoga improve sleep quality by elevating the heart rate to a point that creates biological processes that constitute to better sleep.

When exercising to get better sleep, it also allows for performance to improve, one benefit has been found with those who suffer with sleep deprivation have reduced oxygen consumption compared to those who get the recommended amount. Therefore, this means that when training, sleep is essential to improve overall aerobic ability and performance.


How much exercise?


It has been found that people who engage in at least 30 minutes of exercise may see a difference in sleep that same night. This means that if your looking to improve your sleep with exercise you won’t have to work excessively to try and become a better sleeper.

If you’re already exercising and don’t yet see any benefits in your sleep, it is important to understand how the timing of you’re the workout is vital. Aerobic exercise causes the body to release endorphins, this can be identified as the feel-good emotions you get after a workout. These chemicals have been found to keep people awake for at least 1 to 2 hours before going to bed.  Similarly, exercise causes the core body temperature to rise. This rise signals the body clock that it’s time to be awake, just like taking a hot shower in a morning. These factors mean that to gain better sleep, it is essential that the body is allowed time to ‘wind down’ and training is best to be avoided before bedtime.


These positive effects lead to a vast encouragement of exercise to improve sleep quality. Therefore, if you find you’re struggling with sleep habits and are looking for a possible solution, incorporating a simple exercise routine may give you the good night’s sleep you’re searching for. For more information on how to improve sleep overall visit

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By Ella Orrock