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How to Avoid Exercise-Induced Insomnia — an article on the Smart Living Network
September 17, 2010 at 8:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 1

How to Avoid Exercise-Induced Insomnia

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What happens when you can't sleep because of the increased levels of adrenaline a workout provides? Sleep is vital to the success of any exercise program because it allows the body a chance to recover and re-energize. As muscles rebuild, they become stronger in order to accommodate the resistance they have experienced. Fat is also burned during periods of rest, making it just as important for weight loss as it is for strength training. Although medical research has concluded that physical activity can actually reduce or even cure insomnia, some people have difficulty getting enough sleep while on an exercise program. There are three main considerations when designing your schedule that will help you avoid exercise induced insomnia.

#1 Exercise at the Right Time of Day

You might already be aware of how exercise can raise your body's temperature as well as certain hormones. These hormones are great for stimulating growth and healthy responses to the activity you are doing, but they could also have another effect. Depending on your sensitivity to stress, the heightened stress hormones in your blood stream have the potential to keep you awake at night, unless they have the proper time to return to normal before you go to bed. If you are sensitive to stress, it is recommended that you wait at least three to four hours before sleeping after working out. This will give the hormones a chance to decrease.

Many people prefer to work out in the morning to feel energized throughout the day and not have to worry about insomnia caused by late afternoon or evening exercise. However, that is not necessarily the best scenario for everyone. To determine the best time for you to exercise, try experimenting with alternate times and record the results. For example, work out close to your bed time for a couple of weeks, and when you wake up the next morning, write down what the quality of your sleep was. Then, for the following two weeks, switch your workouts to the morning and rate your sleep quality during those nights.

With the above information, you should be able to understand more about how your body functions and responds to exercise. Once you know the time of the day that works for you, your exercising will produce better results and not interfere with your sleep patterns. When chronic insomnia persists no matter what time you exercise, consult your physician to explore other options, causes, and remedies.

#2 Do Not Over-Train

Spending hours in the gym might seem like a good idea, but it is possible to get too much of a good thing. In fact, over-training is a common mistake that leads to a lack of results and other health-related problems, such as risk of injury and insomnia. Make sure that your workout is tailored to your specific needs and does not exceed your body's limits. Generally, 30 minutes to an hour of exercise or physical activity, three to four times per week, is plenty to stay in shape. Again, check with a doctor or personal trainer to understand more about how long you should be exercising to reach your fitness goals and avoid over-training.

#3 Watch Your Diet

It is recommended that you eat something after each workout. However, then your body will have higher stress hormones and the digestion process to focus on, which can keep it distracted and awake. Be careful to closely monitor your eating times along with your exercise, to ensure that you have plenty of digestion time before going to sleep. Exercise is wonderful, but not when it becomes a detriment to adequate sleep. Your health relies on a holistic approach for your entire body, and good sleep is of the utmost importance.

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/an01063

http://www.theinsomniablog.com/the_insomnia_blog/exercise_and_sleep/

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