Exercising is one of those things that always makes the list of what you should be doing to take better care of yourself, right up there with improving your sleep habits. Too often both of these goals are neglected if you’re busy. But did you realize that working out can actually make it easier to meet your goal of getting more and better sleep?

Many studies have examined the effect of exercise on sleep, and they have found several benefits to adding regular physical activity to your routine. Don’t worry—if you’re already thinking that you don’t have time to add one more thing to your day, getting just ten minutes of aerobic exercise (such as walking) during the day can have a positive effect.

First, working out boosts both the amount and the quality of the sleep you get. Being physically active helps to increase the amount of time you spend in deep sleep, the restorative stage of sleep associated with better immune function, better heart health, and reduced stress. Exercising can also help you drop off to sleep more quickly and stay asleep longer. However, to derive the greatest benefits, you should maintain a regular exercise routine, and you should be aware that the effects might not kick in immediately. In a 16-week study showing the effect of regular workouts on sleep, participants who exercised ended up sleeping as much as 1.25 hours more per night than participants who did not exercise by the end of the study.

Working out can also benefit sleep indirectly through reducing stress. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, chemicals that serve as natural painkillers and mood boosters. Exercise also reduces the levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. By giving you an outlet to vent anxiety, exercise can help alleviate tension that might otherwise keep you up tossing and turning.

Both morning and afternoon workouts can produce positive changes in your sleep habits. Morning workouts are associated with more time spent in deep sleep, while afternoon workouts help you fall asleep faster and wake less often in the night. The only time you might want to avoid exercising? Too close to bedtime. A brisk workout can rev you up as well as raising your core body temperature. A drop in core body temperature is part of what makes you sleepy at night, but exercise can boost that temperature for up to four hours after you finish. This may interfere with your ability to get to sleep when you want to. That doesn’t mean you can’t exercise in the evening. Just try to do it on the earlier side to avoid keeping yourself up.

At IDLE Sleep, we know that getting quality sleep sets you up for success when you’re awake, and many factors contribute to making that sleep possible. However, without the right mattress, your positive lifestyle changes won’t have the beneficial effect you hope for. Our luxury two-sided mattresses are designed to give you superior sleep night after night. To find out which IDLE Sleep mattress is right for you, click here.

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