Eachnight may earn commissions for products you purchase through our links. Our articles and reviews include affiliate links and advertisements, including amerisleep advertising. Learn more Updated October 14, 2021Not only does regular exercise control your weight and improve your mental health, but just 10 minutes of daily aerobic exercise enhances your sleep length and quality, reduces sleep onset latency, and minimizes your risk of developing sleep disorders. Here, we’ll take a closer look at how exercise affects your sleep, the best times to work out, and how much exercise you need for better sleep.How Exercise Impacts SleepExercise and sleep have a bidirectional relationship, meaning physical activity levels result in better sleep and vice versa. Exercise positively affects sleep by:Raising adenosine levels: Adenosine is a neurotransmitter in your central nervous system responsible for regulating your sleep-wake cycle. It causes drowsiness, drops body temperature, and regulates your circadian rhythm.Improving sleep quality: Exercise helps you sleep for longer durations and is linked to the amount of time your body spends in deep, slow-wave sleep (stages 3 and 4 of non-REM sleep) when your body repairs itself the most. Slow-wave sleep is vital for immune functions, muscle recovery, memory processing, and hormonal balance.Boosting your mood: Regular exercise can improve your self-esteem and reduce stress and tension. It may also minimize symptoms of mild depression and anxiety.How Exercise Impacts InsomniaThe most common sleep disorder, insomnia, makes it difficult to sleep undisturbed. Common triggers for insomnia are anxiety, stress, and depression, and the endorphins released from regular exercise may naturally reduce these symptoms.A 2012 study also found a relationship between moderate aerobic exercise and better sleep. The long-term effects of continuous physical exercise for people with chronic insomnia include falling asleep sooner, staying asleep longer, and overall heightened sleep quality.Better sleep may have to do with the body temperature rising when you exercise. When you heat up while exercising, the hypothalamus (the portion of the brain responsible for temperature regulation) activates and works to cool you down. Your body temperature naturally falls when you sleep and exercising may stimulate this cooldown.How Much Exercise Do You Need?The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of exercise a week for the average adult, or at least 30 minutes a day. There’s no specific type of exercise you need to follow. Rather, find a type of exercise you enjoy (such as weight lifting, spin classes, swimming, even walking) and stick to it.If you complete 30 minutes of moderate exercise one day, you might sleep better that very night.Timing Your Workouts for Better SleepFor some, exercising too late in the evenings can negatively impact sleep. Exercise can potentially keep you awake due to two reasons: increased body temperature and endorphin and cortisol release. It can take one to two hours for these effects to pass, so if you’re exercising late, it may interfere with your sleep.It’s best to work out in the mornings or afternoons. This way, your body has time to relax and cool down before bed. Also, consider exercising outside to reap the benefits of sunlight as it increases serotonin levels and regulates your circadian rhythm’s timing.Some people find exercise improves their sleep regardless of when they work out, while others only have time to exercise in the evenings. If you can only work out at night, stick to light exercises such as stretching and walking.FAQsIs it bad to exercise every day?No, so long as you’re not over-exerting yourself, you should be fine. The average adult should exercise at least 150 minutes per week and this can be broken up however works best for you and your schedule.Still, give your body and muscles time to heal properly to avoid injury. Additionally, daily workouts are great, but it’s important not to obsess over-exercising. “For example, 2-hour, vigorous workouts 7 days a week are unnecessary and often harmful,” says Dr. Bhavik Sheth. “Overloading muscles with daily high intensity workouts may lead to worsened sleep quality, and also negatively impact your activity performance.”Is it good to sleep after exercising in the morning?Some individuals may feel tired post-workout, especially if it was high-intensity. However, returning to sleep in the morning after a workout can do more harm than good. If you nap for too long and enter the deep stages of sleep, you may experience sleep inertia, or feeling groggy afterward. Long daytime naps also make it more difficult to sleep properly at nighttime, reducing your muscle recovery time.Power naps (no longer than 20 minutes) are a great alternative to sleeping because they support muscle recovery and improve fatigue, but won’t leave you disoriented.What is the best thing to do after a workout?After a workout, it’s essential to drink water to improve muscle flexibility and prevent soreness. Additionally, eat protein and carbohydrate-rich foods, such as beans, sweet potatoes, quinoa, or even a protein shake.If your workout was rather intense, do a short, 5-minute cooldown of walking or gentle stretching to give your heart rate time to return to its normal state.Why do I feel so tired the day after working out?It’s normal to feel sore after a workout, though there are multiple other reasons why you may be feeling exhausted the day after working out. You may have overexerted yourself during your workout by exercising too hard, too long, or too frequently without resting.Other potential causes of exhaustion the day after working out include sleeping poorly during the night, as sleep is vital for muscle recovery, or not eating properly or drinking enough water after working out. Both nutrition and hydration are vital for peak athletic performance and energy levels.What are the signs of overtraining?Physical exhaustion isn’t simply feeling sore for a few days after a workout. Overtraining is an unusual muscle soreness a person develops if they lack sufficient rest periods and it typically happens after working out consecutively for days or weeks.The potential signs of overtraining include weakened performance, fatigue, poor sleep or mood, extended recovery times, getting sick easily, and a loss of appetite.The best thing to do to avoid overtraining is to give your body enough time to recover between workouts. If you begin developing symptoms, take several days of complete rest from training to give your body time to recover.ConclusionExercise should be a part of every person’s life for its multitude of physical and mental health benefits, including improving your sleep quality.For people who don’t have time to spend hours at the gym, light physical activity during your day adds up and is just as valuable. Try parking further away from your destination, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or taking a walk around the block after your lunch. Overall, increasing your physical activity and movement in any way is beneficial for a better night’s sleep.About the author Kiera PritchardKiera Pritchard’s curiosity around dreams and dreaming sparked her passion for sleep science. In addition to freelancing for eachnight, Kiera is also a physical trainer and strives to help others lead healthy lives while asleep and awake. Since joining our team, Kiera has compiled multiple sleep health guides offering our readers advice on how to improve their days and evenings. Find more articles by Kiera Comments Cancel replyLeave a CommentYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Comment Name Email I agree to the Terms and Conditions of this website.