The Sleep/Exercise Connection: 3 Exercises That Can Help with Chronic Insomnia

September 26, 2013 by  

If you are suffering from chronic insomnia, the mere thought of exercise may cause you to weep. It can be hard to get motivated to move when you’re exhausted. While it can be difficult to force yourself to exercise under these conditions, it can be a key component in kicking insomnia to the curb. As you incorporate exercise into your routine, you will find it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep.

  • Take a Walk – Raising your body temperature about four hours before you want to be asleep will cause it to drop right around bedtime. This drop in temperature will cause you to feel sleepy and have less trouble drifting off. Walking at a brisk pace for half an hour will get the blood flowing and stretch your muscles. This is also a great way to relieve emotional tension, and releasing stress in healthy ways makes it easier to settle your mind at night.
  • I Love Better Sleep - Going for a Walk
    I Love Better Sleep - Stretching

  • Gentle Stretching – Incorporating some gentle stretches like neck rolls, shoulder rolls, and butterflies (sitting with the soles of your feet touching, drawn towards you groin, and letting your knees fall towards the ground) will help alleviate body aches and pains that can make it difficult to get comfortable in bed. Over time, they will also reduce stiffness, making it more likely that you won’t be achy when you wake up in the morning.
  • End in Corpse Pose – This classic yoga pose helps relax muscles and deepen your breathing, leading to better oxygenation. It also induces a state of emotional relaxation that helps you get to sleep. This is especially helpful if you tend to be keyed up in the evening and find your mind racing with stressful and worrisome thoughts when you’re trying to fall asleep. Yogis have been doing this exercise for ages to promote rest and relaxation, and it works. Before bed, lie flat on your back on the ground. Your legs should be straight and your arms should rest at your sides, palms up. Roll your shoulders under and adjust your head so that it isn’t tilted back or forward. The tip of your nose pointing towards the sky. Let your legs relax and your feet fall out to the sides. Close your eyes and soften the muscles in your face, picturing your eyes sinking into your skull. Maintain the position for five to fifteen minutes.

Remember that timing and the intensity of the workout is everything when it comes to exercise and insomnia. While exercise is one of the best cures when it is well-timed, vigorous activity to close to bedtime can actually have the opposite effect. When you workout within a couple of hours of when you want to be asleep, you may find yourself facing another night of tossing and turning. Get it in earlier in the day. As night closes in, slow your pace and relax. This winning combination will collaborate with your body to create the best conditions for rejuvenating sleep.

photo credit: Michelle Brea via photopin cc  |  bookgrl via photopin cc

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