26 October 2022

Can't sleep?

Physiologists have identified a tip for improving the quality of sleep that is suitable for most people

Vyacheslav Golovanov, Habr

Many people face the problem of lack of sleep – and quality sleep, after which you feel rested. The lack of such sleep in the long term negatively affects many aspects of health and well-being.

There are many recipes that help people fall asleep and improve the quality of sleep, and quite often in such cases you can hear advice about the need to exercise regularly. And, according to scientific research, this is probably the best advice suitable for almost everyone.

For example, in a meta-analysis (Kredlow et al., The effects of physical activity on sleep: a meta-analytical review) of studies evaluating the current understanding of the quality of sleep, its duration and exercise, it was concluded that regular short-term physical exercise (several times a week) can improve the quality of sleep.

It is clarified that regular aerobic exercises help people fall asleep faster, wake up less often at night and feel more rested in the morning. It can be any aerobic exercise – cycling, running, swimming, dancing, and even just brisk walking. Even one 30-minute session of such exercises can improve several aspects of sleep – although not as qualitatively as regular exercise.

The number of studies on the effect of strength exercises on sleep is much smaller, and this issue has been studied worse – but, judging by the scientific papers that exist, such exercises can also improve the quality of sleep. Judging by surveys, people who do strength training about three times a week, the subjective quality of sleep increases.

The most remarkable thing here is that regular exercise improves the quality of sleep in almost all people, regardless of what kind of sleep disorders a person has.

But if the positive effect of exercise on sleep is established, then the mechanism of this influence remains a mystery. According to one theory, exercise encourages the hormonal system to release melatonin earlier, a hormone that regulates the circadian rhythm of living organisms.

Also, during exercise, the body temperature rises, and after that it begins to fall. At the same time, a drop in body temperature is associated with falling asleep, so evening exercises can help some people fall asleep, despite the widespread opinion that it is better to practice in the morning.

In addition, exercise, thanks to the release of endorphins, has a positive effect on mood and mental health, also related to sleep quality.

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