The Affect of Physical Activity on Sleep

Exercise is important for sleep, conversely, sleep is just as important as it is for exercise.

Exercise is important for sleep

Since both components have a direct influence on each other, it is not surprising that we constantly try to catch up on sleep to have enough energy during the day. But what if we try exercise a little more at the end of the day for better quality and quantity of sleep? 

Exercise is not only beneficial for your overall health and circulation, but research has shown the positive effects on quality of sleep. 

Exercise at least 150 mins each week

Research by the National Sleep Foundation found that people who followed the national guideline of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity during the week saw their sleep quality improve by 65%.

These people also found that they were more rested compared to the less active participants. With around two thirds of people having difficulty sleeping at night and increasing daytime sleepiness, the importance of exercise during the week is becoming more important than ever.

Exercise also reduced the number of leg cramps while sleeping by up to 68%, and nearly half of respondents reported a decrease in their difficulty concentrating when they were tired. 


Exercise and Hormones

Sleep provides an opportunity to restore functions in the body, including tissue repair and muscle growth.

During your deep sleep cycleyour blood pressure drops. Furthermore, your breathing becomes deeper and much slower. There is little brain activity here, so more blood is available to your muscles. This provides more oxygen and nutrients and allows healing and growth. New cells are generated, and existing tissues and muscles are supplied with energy again. During this stage, your pituitary gland also releases growth hormone, which further aids in muscle repair, tissue growth, and fertility. 

Other important hormones are known as ghrelin and leptin. Our hunger hormones also rely on sleep to maintain their healthy balance. Leptin is your hunger hormone that is released when you recognise the body that it is saturated, while ghrelin detects when your body needs energy and you are hungry.

When you haven’t slept enough, your hunger hormones can counter your ambitions to stay healthy. Ghrelin usually increases as leptin decreases, and you will feel hungry, although your body may not need the energy. You will feel hungrier than if you were rested.

Another hormone called insulin, which controls your blood sugar level, is also affected. If we suffer from prolonged sleep deprivation, there may be a risk of diabetes because lack of sleep increases the amount of sugar in the blood. Again, an increase in blood sugar causes us to crave more sugar, which further drives us to develop a greater tendency to malnutrition. Hence, weight gain is the general consequence.