Sleep and exercise: the two-way relationship
And why do we need both?
Good sleep is essential for good condition. Sleep gives you energy for more effective training and time for muscle regeneration and rebuilding. However, exercise has been shown to be extremely beneficial for sleep quality and is one of the most effective drug-free treatments for sleep-related problems. Experts call the relationship between sleep and exercise a “bidirectional” one. The benefits are cyclical: more exercise helps you sleep better, and adequate sleep promotes healthier physical activity throughout the day. Regular exercise has countless benefits. These include a lower risk of diseases such as cancer and diabetes, better physical function, and improved overall quality of life. Exercise can also be beneficial for people at certain stages of life. For example, pregnant women who engage in regular physical activity are less likely to gain weight during pregnancy or suffer from postpartum depression, and older people who exercise regularly are less likely to be injured in a fall.
Exercise also improves sleep quality. Moderate and vigorous exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality in adults by reducing the time it takes to fall asleep and reducing insomnia-related night wakings. In addition, physical activity can alleviate daytime fatigue and sleepiness, thus reducing the need to consume sleep-supporting medicinal products.
Several surveys have examined the sleep and exercise habits of adults. These include the National Sleep Foundation's 2003 "Sleep in America" survey of adults between the ages of 55 and 84.
52% of survey respondents said they exercise three or more times a week, and 24% said they exercise less than once a week. Respondents in the latter group were much more likely to sleep less than six hours a night, experience fair or poor sleep quality, struggle more with falling asleep and staying asleep, and be diagnosed with a sleep disorder such as insomnia, sleep apnea, or restless legs syndrome. Similar studies and surveys have focused on the effects of exercise on subjects in other demographic groups. One study analyzed college students during their exam period. They found that exercise and physical activity reduced exam-related stress, which led to better sleep. Scientists have found that exercise has a strong chemical effect on the brain. Physical activity produces more adenosine in the brain, which makes us feel sleepy. Adenosine is actually the chemical that caffeine blocks to make you feel more alert. The more intensely you exercise, the more adenosine is released, and the sleepier you will be afterwards.
The effect of sleep on exercise
Fewer studies have been conducted on the role of sleep in our physical activity. Much of the research has focused on differences in physical activity between people with sleep disorders and healthy individuals. However, most studies have concluded that people who sleep poorly are less active than those with healthy sleep habits. In particular, people who suffer from certain sleep disorders do not exercise as much. For example, adults with insomnia are less active than those without insomnia.
So what should we pay attention to? Basically, more sleep and more exercise. Increasing these two activities has many and significant health benefits. Take advantage of the two-way relationship between the two. The more you exercise, the better you sleep, and the more you sleep, the more you will be able to exercise - and enjoy exercise.