Sleep disorders are a common problem these days. And most often, difficulty falling asleep and maintaining uninterrupted sleep is associated with a lack of physical activity. Most people today are engaged in intellectual, not physical labor. Many of them simply do not have time to get tired during the day, because in general they lead a sedentary lifestyle: they do not go in for sports, they prefer passive to active rest. But physical fatigue (not overwork!) is a natural “sleeping pill” that triggers the mechanisms of healthy, sound sleep. And the best way to achieve useful fatigue is to give the body a good training load. But you need to train correctly, otherwise you can get the exact opposite effect.
The impact of fitness on sleep quality
Moderate exercise for a total of 150 minutes a week improves sleep quality by 65%. This conclusion was reached by the authors of a study of the relationship between physical activity and sleep, 2005–2006. (published in Mental health and physical activity, December 2011). The results were obtained from a representative sample of nearly 3,000 people aged 18 to 85. According to Paul Loprinzi, author of the study, physical activity in many cases can serve as an effective alternative to drug treatment of sleep disorders. The study also found that moderate physical activity reduced the likelihood of leg cramps during a night’s rest (by 68%) and improved concentration when tired (by 45%).
Regular fitness classes have a beneficial effect on sleep, acting in several directions at once:
Dosed physical activity causes healthy fatigue, which entails fast and sound sleep.
Fitness is an effective sedative, no less effective than some drugs. During fitness, an excess of the stress hormone adrenaline is burned and endorphins are released into the blood. In terms of strengthening mental health, evening workouts are especially useful — they relieve the nervous tension accumulated during the day. Systematic exercise makes the body physically stronger, increasing its resistance to stress. However, we should not forget that fitness itself can be a strong stress factor if you ignore the rules of safe training, which will be discussed below.
Regular physical activity helps maintain a stable weight, and thus insure against the development of sleep apnea syndrome. Apnea, like snoring, is common in overweight people. This is a deviation in the work of the respiratory tract, which results in a violation of the sleep process, daytime sleepiness, lethargy and fatigue.
Fitness classes comprehensively heal the body, slow down aging and serve as a preventive measure for many somatic diseases that often cause poor sleep. In healthy, actively exercising people, the need for long sleep is gradually reduced — they can get by with 7–8 hours of nightly rest, instead of 9–11.
How does sleep affect athletic performance?
Not only the level of physical activity affects the quality of sleep — there is also a feedback: how successful the training will be depends on the quality of sleep. It appears in the following:
A sleepy person is more active, efficient and energetic. He approaches training with great enthusiasm and, accordingly, demonstrates the best sports results. A well-rested and fully recovered organism is characterized by higher values of physical parameters — strength, endurance, coordination.
At night, there is a peak in the production of somatotropin growth hormone, which stimulates anabolic processes in the body. At night, other anabolic hormones and cells of the immune system are most active. A quality night’s rest is a prerequisite for effective muscle hypertrophy and full recovery after fitness training. Lack of sleep, on the contrary, increases the level of stress hormones that have a catabolic effect.
A rested person is more attentive and collected. It is easier for him to concentrate and comply with all safety regulations when working with sports equipment and exercise equipment. Getting enough sleep is a fitness injury prevention tool.
In a dream, the information received during the day is processed and structured. The skills acquired during the day are fixed in the brain, including the movements and exercises learned in fitness training. Lack of sleep reduces the productivity of the brain, which affects the transmission of nerve impulses and the effectiveness of muscle contraction.
Fitness classes and healthy sleep: the rules of training
In order for training to have a positive effect on the quality of sleep, you must adhere to the following rules:
It is advisable to do fitness in the afternoon or early evening. In the morning, it is better to limit yourself to light exercises. It will be especially useful for those who cannot wake up quickly and experience severe drowsiness for the first few hours after waking up. But if a full-fledged workout is still planned for the morning, you need to start it no earlier than 30–40 minutes after getting up.
Evening fitness workouts should end 3 hours before bedtime.
Overtraining should not be allowed. To normalize night sleep, 45 minutes of moderate physical activity 4–6 times a week is enough.
The quality of sleep is positively affected by running, walking, swimming, cycling, aerobics, yoga, Pilates, and playing sports. Less preferred are power loads (bodybuilding, weightlifting) and martial arts.
If sports nutrition is used, the composition of each supplement should be carefully studied. Some protein powders and gainers may contain ingredients that have a tonic effect on the nervous system (coenzyme Q10, L‑carnitine, etc.). You need to stop taking energy drinks in the afternoon. Strong stimulants include caffeine, taurine, ginseng and guarana extracts.
If you already have problems with sleep and sleeping pills help to cope with them, you need to gradually reduce their use to a minimum and, in the end, completely eliminate it. Tranquilizers and sleeping pills are poorly compatible with sports. They often cause drowsiness, weakening of coordination, decreased attention, which can lead to injury during training.