The Best Ever Alternate Exercise Solutions for Your Sleep
Updated: Jul 8, 2022
Do you find it difficult to motivate yourself to exercise even though you’ve been told it will help you sleep? Research shows that insomniacs, in general, lead more sedentary lifestyles than good sleepers. Read on to find out how exercise helps you sleep and the alternate strategies you can use to get the same results without exercising.
How does exercise help?
Exercise helps you sleep because it puts your body under physical stress. When you work out, there is small damage done to the muscle fibers that requires rest to repair or replace. Over the following 24 to 48 hours, your body releases hormones and immune system cells (similar to stem cells) to heal the damage. This physical stress and the resulting repair process leads the brain to compensate by increasing deep sleep to help in the healing process.
Raises Body Temperature
Your circadian rhythm follows a 24-hour cycle that closely matches your daily activity levels. Throughout this process, you body temperature fluctuates, rising throughout the day, and dropping in the evening. As your body temperature drops, it signals to the brain that you are getting ready to be inactive and go to sleep. The steeper this drop, the easier it is to sleep.
Best Time to Exercise for Your Sleep
The best time to exercise for sleep is 3-6 hours before bed. This helps to increase your body temperature which will result in an increased drop that will improve sleep. If you have trouble going to sleep, you want to exercise around six hours before bed. To help you stay asleep, exercise closer to your bedtime.
What are some alternate solutions to exercise?
Household Chores = Moderate Activity
Research shows, only moderate activity is required to affect sleep. A Stanford study asked 55–77-year-olds who had trouble sleeping to perform 30-minutes of moderate activity (low-impact aerobics, walking, or riding a stationary bike) every other day. This resulted in reducing the time to go to sleep by half and increasing total sleep time by about an hour.
Many household chores can substitute for moderate activity. The keys to this solution is to ensure that you get your heart rate up and feel a bit sweaty for 20-30 minutes. Even better if you do this in the late afternoon or early evening to help raise your body temperature in the 3-6 hours before bed.
Some moderately active chores include:
Outside work: mowing the lawn, shoveling the sidewalk, gardening, raking leaves, washing the car.
Inside work: cleaning, vacuuming, painting, washing windows, moving furniture, home repair
Fun activities you do with the family: playing with the kids, pushing the stroller, dancing to the latest Disney track, bouncing the baby
Hot Bath Raises Body Temperature
Having a hot bath (or sit in a hot tub or sauna) can have the same effect as exercise in regard to body temperature drop. The keys here are to keep the bath hot enough for at least 25 minutes and to do it closer to bedtime – about 2 hours before – as it doesn’t raise your body temperature as much as exercise, so it helps to do it closer to bedtime.
Turn Down the Thermostat
Help your body temperature drop faster by turning down the heat. The optimal sleeping temperature is 15 – 19⁰C (60 – 67⁰F). The cooler the room, the more rapid and greater the drop in body temperature, and the easier it is to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Exercise is definitely the better route to a good night’s sleep, but, as I know myself, it can be very difficult to get the energy to do it when you don’t consistently sleep through the night. Use these simple strategies to mimic the same results as exercise until you have more energy to be more active.
Download my free resource: 12 Ways to Fall Asleep Faster Naturally.