HOW DOES PRACTICING SPORT OR PHYSICAL EXERCISE AFFECT SLEEP?
According to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), physical inactivity is the fourth risk factor with regard to global mortality. In addition, it is estimated that it is the main cause in a not inconsiderable percentage of some diseases such as diabetes or ischemic heart disease.
Among the benefits of doing physical activity regularly we find:
- Reduces the risk of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke.
- Reduces the risk of depression.
- It improves bone health and reduces the risk of falling.
- It reduces the risk of suffering from certain types of cancer such as breast or colon cancer.
- It prevents diabetes, especially type 2, thanks to the fact that it helps control weight and maintain a caloric balance.
- It is beneficial to improve the quality and duration of sleep.
Thus, the total absence of physical activity can compromise the health of the individual if it is added to other risk factors, so there are many reasons to train our body. You can follow these general recommendations according to your age, and adapt them to your needs:
- Children and young people between 5-17 years: Minimum 60 minutes daily of moderate-vigorous activity.
- Adults 18 years and older: 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week, or 75 minutes of aerobic physical activity each week, or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activities. It is recommended to add muscle activity twice a week. In people over 65, the activity will be adapted as their general health allows.
But how does exercising affect our rest and sleep?
Regular physical exercise has been studied to reduce anxiety, improve mood and self-esteem, as well as the quality of sleep.
In addition, when it is aerobic in nature, it activates the main cognitive structures of individuals, which can act as an element of prevention of sleep-related disorders, such as hypersomnia.
Exercise causes a feeling of well-being, due to the secretion of beta endorphins, which acts as a positive reinforcement to do it again. It can also increase the levels of melatonin, a hormone related to sleep, which has a positive effect, causing a decrease in insomnia.
Thus, we can conclude that exercise is beneficial to improve the quality of sleep and helps reduce sleep disorders.
What is the best time to do sports?
There is no consensus to determine the best time to play sports, since each person has their own daily routines, responsibilities and obligations. It is therefore necessary to find the best moment to be able to do it in a calm and carefree way.
The practice of cardiovascular physical activity or too intense force, carries with it an increase in the heart rate (pulsations) proportional to the intensity of the exercise, and a greater release of endorphins and catecholamines, among which is adrenaline, which produces body activation . Therefore, these types of exercises should not be done before going to bed. Some tips should be taken into account to find sufficient relaxation, fall asleep and get a better rest after exercising:
- Do not eat large or difficult to digest meals
- Do sports at least 4-6 hours before sleeping
- Taking a hot shower: helps lower blood pressure
- Use breathing or muscle relaxation techniques in bed
In addition, it is advisable to create healthy habits that make you sleep better. Among them are:
- Follow a stable routine. To do this, you have to go to bed and get up at about the same time every day.
- Try to sleep in favorable environments (comfortable bed, light completely off and in silence).
- Avoid stimulants at bedtime: For example, caffeine or theine.
- Do not drink alcohol or smoke before sleeping.
- Not doing important work or tasks minutes before sleeping.
- Keep the light off to avoid stimuli.
If you still cannot get to sleep, you can resort to drugs such as those made of doxylamine. This is effective in reducing sleep onset time, as well as increasing its depth and duration. It is available in pharmacies, where they can advise you on its use. Food supplements that contain melatonin can also be effective in these cases.
What sports have the greatest benefit over sleep?
Many studies support the positive influence of exercise on sleep. Thus, for example, low-to-moderate intensity aerobic exercise helps decrease sleep latency time (how long it takes us to fall asleep), reduce nighttime awakenings, and improve insufficient sleep quality.
Other strength flexibility exercises also influence the quality of sleep.