Man Napping On Lawn
Exercise can help you fall asleep and sleep more deeply - at any time of day.

How Exercise Can Help You Sleep Better

Having trouble sleeping? One of the simplest fixes available, experts say, is get more exercise. Many studies have found that people who exercise regularly get more and better sleep, and that they specifically sleep better on days when they get at least a moderate amount of physical activity.

How Does Exercise Help Sleep?

Even moderate aerobic exercise increases the amount of slow wave sleep, also known as REM sleep. This is the type of sleep required for your body and brain to fully rejuvenate so you can wake up revitalized and alert.

Among the biggest causes of insomnia and poor sleep are worry, stress, and depression, and exercise helps ease these as well, with the double benefit of increasing sleep quality. In fact, experts at Kaiser Permanente list exercise among the best cures for insomnia and offer these four key tips for sleeping better every night.

How Long Will It Take to See My Sleep Improve?

Not long at all; in fact you may see an immediate result. Studies have found that when people get 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise, they often see a difference in sleep quality that very night.

And it’s not just adults who sleep better when they exercise – a recent study found that teens do too. The researchers found that on days when teenagers upped their exercise level, they went to bed earlier and slept longer and more deeply.

How to Time Exercise for Better Sleep?

One question about sleep and exercise is whether exercising close to bedtime will keep you awake. When researchers reviewed 23 sleep studies, they concluded that exercise is beneficial at all times of day and evening, as long as you stop at least an hour before bedtime.

However, whether exercising keeps you up is a matter of individual difference, experts say. For some people, exercise gets them energized and makes it harder to wind down at bedtime. Other people find that by tiring them out, exercise makes it easier to drop off. So pay attention to your own rhythms, and if you notice that you’re one of the people who feels too revved up after late afternoon or evening exercise to sleep, schedule your workouts earlier in the day.

The relationship between exercise and sleep goes both ways, too – getting a better night’s sleep will make you feel more energetic the next day, and therefore more likely to get a workout in.

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.