5 Facts About Sleep and Exercise

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Cilliers Marais


There is no denying that physical activity has countless benefits, both to the body and soul. However, one of the most important benefits of exercise is sleep!

Let’s look at 5 Facts About Sleep and Exercise:

1. The Link Between Sleep and Exercise:

While it is undeniable, the exact correlation between exercise and sleep is known only by a few exercise enthusiasts.

Here are 4 ways in which exercise increases sleep quality:

  1. Exercise is Tiring
  2. Stress-Reducing
  3. Resets Your Sleep Cycle
  4. Vitamin D Exposure

Exercise is Tiring

The most obvious way in which exercise affects sleep is that it tires you out. Physical activity is hard work and takes a toll on your body. Your muscles and your mind become tired after a good session of exercising. This tiredness makes sleep a lot easier.


Exercise also reduces stress and relieves anxiety. This correlation is more indirect, but important nonetheless. It has been proven that exercise lowers cortisol levels, decreases blood pressure, and triggers anti-anxiety responses in the body. Since stress is a leading cause of sleep disorders and other sleeping problems, a decrease in stress levels can greatly improve the quality of sleep that you are experiencing.

Woman sitting down and stretching in the woods.

Mindful exercises like yoga are especially good for regulating stress levels to bring a sense of calm to your everyday life. This calmness makes the transition to sleep so much easier.

Resets Your Sleep Cycle

Exercise resets your sleep-wake cycle. It does this by raising your body temperature, which allows it to drop significantly a few hours later. This drop in body temperature triggers sleepiness and makes it easier to fall asleep.

Vitamin D Exposure

The final reason is only applicable if you exercise outside. The exposure to the sunlight allows you to take in more significant amounts of Vitamin D. Vitamin D has a multitude of benefits – one of these are increased sleep quality.

2. Exercise Can Help You Sleep Better

We have already discussed the scientific reasons behind the correlation between exercise and sleep. Now, let’s delve a bit deeper and expand on the fact that exercise can make you sleep better.

Exercising during the day not only makes you sleep better, but it also makes you sleep longer.

Woman sleeping on her back in a bed.

Physical activity not only improves the quality of your deep sleep, but the exercise also burns energy. This energy is replenished by increased amounts of time spent in a deep sleep.

3. Exercising Just Before Bed Can Make You Sleep Worse:

While strenuous activity can undoubtedly increase the quality of your sleep, doing it at the wrong time doesn’t. Exercising at the wrong time during the day can have negative effects on your sleep-wake cycle.

Tired woman with blonde, curly hair, laying on bed.

Heavy exercising one to two hours before bed can be detrimental to your sleep health.

  • Aerobic exercises cause the brain to release endorphins, which ultimately increases brain activity. In order to be able to reach the state of significantly less brain activity that your body needs in order to fall asleep, your body needs time to flush out these endorphins. If you exercise just before bed, you deprive your body of that crucial calming down phase. With this, falling asleep an become a challenge.
  • Physical activity increases body temperature. This elevation in core body temperature acts as a signal to your body that it is time to be awake. Your body needs 60 to 90 minutes to allow for the drop in temperature which facilitates the feeling of being tired.

4. Exercise and Sleep Disorders:

While the exact reason behind exercise decreasing the effects of sleep disorders remains unknown, studies have determined that exercise during the day is a natural remedy to help with sleep disorders.

The symptoms of insomnia are alleviated significantly when there is an increase in the amount of physical activity experienced during the day. Furthermore, the effects of sleep take place over a period of time, rather than immediately.

Tired man rubbing his hand over his face.

Exercise decreases the amount of anxiety, arousal, and depression experienced by the sleeper. These 3 feelings contribute greatly to insomnia.

Finally, exercise brings about changes in the body clock, which reduces insomnia.

5. What Is The Right Amount of Exercise?

Unfortunately, there is no set time of daily exercise to ensure the best quality of sleep. Furthermore, it varies from person to person. However, we can provide a generic amount of exercise to act as a guide for you to find the best balance for your body.

Even if you just exercise for 30 minutes every day, you will likely experience a difference in your overall sleep quality. Both the National Institute of Health and the American Heart Association have recommended 150 minutes of exercise each week (30 minutes a day) in order to maintain a good sleep cycle.

Side profile of woman exercising with earphones in her ears.

Furthermore, having a consistent exercising routine, with a set schedule for each day, increases quality of sleep more than random, haphazard exercising does. Lastly, make sure to get quality sleep with a quality bed. Consider a pure foam bed from Kooi Beds, designed specifically for the lives of busy athletes.

Exercising is such a healthy habit to add to your lifestyle; the benefits are endless, and sleep quality is only the tip of the iceberg. Do yourself a favour and find a form of exercise that you enjoy, and reap the benefits.