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The Daily Habit That Can Drastically Improve Your Sleep


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By Niamh Walsh on 13th May 2024

In the eternal quest for better sleep, many of us turn to pills, potions, and fancy gadgets in search of a quick fix. But what if the secret to sweeter dreams was hiding in plain sight all along?

It may come as a surprise, but the key to unlocking those elusive eight hours of blissful slumber could be as simple as lacing up your trainers and breaking a sweat.

Yes, you heard it right. Exercise isn't just about fitting into your favourite jeans or keeping those doctor's orders at bay—it's also a powerful tool for enhancing your sleep quality and overall well-being. But before you dismiss it as just another item on your never-ending to-do list, consider this: the benefits of exercise extend far beyond the confines of the gym or the running track.

Numerous studies have shown that regular physical activity can have a profound impact on sleep patterns, helping you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up feeling more refreshed. And the best part? You don't need to be an Olympic athlete to reap the rewards. Whether you're a die-hard gym-goer, a weekend warrior, or someone who prefers a leisurely stroll around the block, there's an exercise routine out there for you.

But when is the best time to exercise for optimal sleep benefits? While the answer may vary depending on your individual preferences and schedule, experts generally recommend avoiding vigorous exercise too close to bedtime, as it can elevate your heart rate and body temperature, making it harder to wind down. Instead, aim to incorporate moderate-intensity exercise into your daily routine earlier in the day, such as in the morning or afternoon. Not only will this help you reap the sleep-promoting benefits of physical activity, but it can also give you an energy boost to tackle the day ahead.

Of course, exercise is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to improving sleep quality. Other lifestyle factors, such as diet, stress management, and bedtime routines, play a crucial role in setting the stage for a restful night's sleep.

When it comes to eating for better sleep, timing is key. Avoiding heavy meals and caffeine close to bedtime can help prevent indigestion and promote relaxation. Instead, opt for light, easily digestible snacks, and consider incorporating sleep-promoting foods such as bananas, almonds, and herbal teas like chamomile or valerian root into your evening routine.

Experts like Dr. Andrew Huberman also emphasise the importance of rhythm in regulating our sleep-wake cycles. By going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, we align our internal body clocks, known as circadian rhythms, optimising our sleep quality. This consistency trains our bodies to anticipate sleep, making it easier to both fall asleep and wake up feeling refreshed.

But it's not just about timing; it's also about setting the stage for sleep. Creating a tranquil sleep environment is key. This means dimming the lights and minimising exposure to blue light from screens. Blue light disrupts our natural production of melatonin, the hormone that helps us fall asleep, so turning off screens at least an hour before bed can work wonders for sleep quality.

In addition to environmental factors, winding down before bed is crucial. Engaging in relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation can signal to our bodies that it's time to rest and recharge. These practices activate the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting a state of calm conducive to sleep.

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