We here at Dr. Oz Good Life™ know that getting sufficient sleep has a positive impact on your overall health and wellbeing. Sleep improves mood, increases energy, and helps you focus during the day. All of us need those benefits from sleep, and we have some good news for you. There is a simple, natural way you can improve your sleep so you can be happy and healthy. That simple way is exercise.  

Exercise is a great way to improve overall health, and it can also improve your sleep. Research has shown that sleep and fitness have a bidirectional relationship, meaning that improving one can improve the other.  

How Fitness Impacts Sleep 

Numerous studies have looked at the relationship between exercise and sleep, and they’ve found several reasons why exercise improves sleep. Exercise reduces the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and the time lying awake in bed. It can also give you more energy throughout the day so you can do the things you love without wanting to take a nap.  

Exercise can also improve sleep indirectly by improving your mental health. When a person exercises, it can reduce their anxiety and depression and improve overall mood. Reduction in stress and anxiety results in improved sleep, so exercising can improve both your sleep and mental health at the same time.  

Exercising To Improve Sleep 

There are a few specific exercise tips that can improve your sleep. One of them is to exercise outside. Exercising outside exposes your body to natural light, which helps your body regulate your circadian rhythm, your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.  

You can also participate in moderate- to high-intensity exercise. Moderate- to high-intensity exercises, such as aerobic exercise, are particularly helpful for people with insomnia and are great at reducing anxiety. Resistance training is also a great moderate-intensity exercise that can improve sleep quality as well.  

Yoga is also a fantastic way to exercise that will help you sleep better. It helps people relax and unwind, and you can do it any time of day to experience the calming benefits. Yoga has even been used as a helpful tool to treat insomnia. Also, if you incorporate yoga into your nighttime routine, it can signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep so you fall asleep faster.  

When Is the Best Time To Exercise?  

Historically, scientists believed that exercising in the morning or afternoon was best to improve sleep because exercising before bed increases body temperature, heart rate, and adrenaline. However, recent research has muddied the waters by saying it isn’t so clear-cut. When you exercise can actually depend on if you’re a morning or evening person. If you tend to be an early riser, exercising in the morning can be most beneficial, but if you like to stay up late, exercising in the evening could work for you.  

The main thing is to listen to your body and observe how you sleep after exercising at different times. If you get better sleep after morning exercise, do that. If you find you can fall asleep faster after an evening workout, that may be the choice for you.  

How Sleep Impacts Fitness 

Sleep can also affect fitness, though the effect hasn’t been studied as much as fitness impacting sleep. What researchers have found is that those who sleep poorly are typically less active throughout the day, which makes sense because poor sleep leads to less energy. Also, healthy sleep may not change your physical activity. Choosing to exercise is a conscious decision you have to make. Getting sufficient sleep does not automatically change your exercise habits.  

Although sufficient sleep may not directly lead to improved exercise, sleep does improve physical performance. According to Dr. Matthew Walker, PhD., in his book Why We Sleep, several studies have shown that “sleep improves the motor skills of junior, amateur, and elite athletes across sports as diverse as tennis, basketball, football, soccer, and rowing” (128). Now, you don’t have to be an athlete to experience these benefits. Getting quality sleep at night can help you perform the physical labors you need to throughout the day by increasing your energy and helping your body recover.  

Fitness and Sleep 

If you find yourself tossing and turning at night or if you’ve been having trouble going to sleep and you aren’t exercising, try it out. Start small and find something you enjoy doing. As you start exercising and continue with the habit, your sleep will improve, and you’ll feel better throughout the day.