This Type Of Exercise Can Help You Sleep Better, According To Research
It goes without saying that sleep and exercise are two major components of overall well-being. And when they're both prioritized, the benefits go hand in hand; better sleep means a better workout, and a better workout means better sleep. But which kinds of exercise are best for improving sleep quality?
Researchers at the University of Southern Queensland in Australia wanted to see for themselves—here's what they found.
The exercise-sleep connection.
Sleep and exercise have what is referred to as a bidirectional relationship. Just as one improves the other, poor sleep can negatively affect physical activity and vice versa: reduced physical activity can reduce sleep quality, too.
Up until now, most of the sleep research related to exercise was centered around aerobic exercises like walking or jogging. Results have consistently shown that regular aerobic exercise improves sleep quality and overall well-being. So for this study, researchers wanted to look at muscle-strengthening exercises (i.e., weight machines or pushups) to see if they were associated with the same sleep-improving benefits as aerobic exercises.
Studying the effects of strength training on sleep.
This new research, published this month in the journal Preventive Medicine Reports, used data collected from the 2014 German Health Update Survey, in which over 23,000 people had answered questions about their strength training habits and sleep quality.
Those who did strength training self-reported fewer "poor" or "very poor" sleep ratings, compared to those who didn't report doing strength training. According to the study authors, based on these findings, "future health behavior modification strategies to enhance sleep quality at the population-level should consider promoting muscle-strengthening exercise."
The deep and restorative sleep you've always dreamt about*
This study used self-reported data. In the future, we hope to see more research studying the granular impacts that different exercises have on sleep.
In the meantime, if there's one thing we can be sure of, it's that exercise (whatever it looks like to you) is great for improving sleep quality and overall well-being. As clinical psychologist and sleep expert Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., previously told mbg, "Sleep is recovery. If you haven't done anything you need to recover from, you're not going to sleep particularly well."
Other things you can do to get the most out of your nightly zzz's on top of exercising include taking a magnesium supplement like mbg's magnesium+, trying to keep a consistent sleep/wake schedule (yes, even on the weekends), and avoiding eating or drinking alcohol too close to bedtime.
The bottom line.
Whether you're lifting heavy weights or taking a leisurely stroll, research continues to find that getting moving during the day can do wonders to prepare your body for a good night's rest.