There are many benefits to walking. But what are the benefits of walking and sleep? There is research to suggest that doing a moderate amount of aerobic exercise such as walking in the evening can reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep. This research was completed a while back but I have my own findings to add to that.
I am convinced that the benefits of walking include improving your sleep, increased energy and an improve overall health.
I took up regular walking in April 2018 and found that it had a positive effect on my sleep. I was ready to sleep when I went to bed and my body really needed the rest so I fell asleep pretty quickly. I came across the research above after finding such positive results for myself. Which is why I wanted to share how you can improve your sleeping just by walking.
Of the studies that I found relating to exercise and sleep, the best is walking but keeping it to moderate intensity. They found that if you work out rigorously close to bedtime or indeed lift weights then it would have the opposite effect by keeping you awake half the night! I guess that makes sense as high intensity exercise is about getting your heart to work faster and pump more blood round your body. That in itself will keep you awake during the day so you can only imagine what it would do ifyou did it close to bedtime!
Of course sometimes we want to know the how to these types of of things. Although the exact mechanisms of how moderate exercise helps sleep are not known, we can come up with our own conclusions. For example many people say that the exercise helps with the body heat up and it is the heat that helps you get to sleep. As you know exercise triggers an increase in your temperature, and after it the body drops in temperature just as if we are going to sleep, this may aid in us falling asleep. Exercise is also known to reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms. Insomnia is commonly linked to anxiety and depression so exercise has a strong effect on reducing these symptoms and allowing your body to sleep.
Steps to a great night’s sleep
There is much out there about how to seek a good night’s sleep but I have to say that promoting sleep naturally has been well and truly sorted for me with walking. You really can walk your way to a lot of things from losing weight, improved health and having an effective and sounder sleep!
If you need help with your walking activities and fitting walking in to your everyday life then head over to my blog Walking Body and Mind to find out how to go about it. The good news for those that don’t do much walking is that you can also imitate the effects of walking if you don’t have time at any stage not to walk.
To do this you run yourself a hot bubble bath. The more bubbles the better as this keeps the heat in the bath for longer – I kid you not! The bath raises your temperature but also helps your relax too.
When you get out of the bath and dry yourself your body will start to cool down. It is this cooling that allows your body to overcompensate for the cooling and radiates more heat that what was in the bath and this process speeds up the sleep process. It really is a work of wonder.
The reason they recommend walking is that it is relaxing without going overboard in terms of exhaustion. Not only that but any type of exercise in the open air, also helps you relax and makes you feel sleepy. Indeed being outdoors has another great advantage – daylight, which has a wonderful effect on your internal ‘body clock’ and the timing of our sleep. This is the reason we are able to waken in the summer when it is light than we are in the winter when it is dark. During the day it also suppresses the need for sleep and why we are sleepy at night when it is dark.
6 Secrets to a Great Night’s Sleep
So now you know that exercise and more specifically walking can help you get a great night’s sleep. I wanted to share with your some of my other secrets to getting a great night’s sleep that you may not have thought about.
1. Bedroom for sleep
Keeping your bedroom for sleep (and sex) will help you sleep. Stay away from TV and other screens such as phones and tablets. Your brain will then recognize your bed and bedroom as a place for sleep and relaxation.
2. Keep it a comfortable, relaxing haven
Your bedroom should be comfortable as possible and that includes the decor, the colour and making sure you use black out curtains to curtail the amount of light in there.
3. Start an adult sleep routine
I can remember when my children were young I used to bath them, put on they PJs, tuck them in bed and read them a story. That doesn’t have to change when you reach adulthood. Set your own bedtime routine as rituals help signal your body and mind that it is time for sleep.
4. Don’t overeat going to bed
While a grumbling stomach can be a little annoying and stop you sleeping at night so can eating too much. Your body will have to use up all those calories in the form of energy making you way too warm to sleep. So avoid any large meals close the bed time.
5. Avoid alcohol and caffeine
While alcohol can put you to sleep, it is the worst sleep you will experience! If you drink coffee close to bed time it will also keep you awake as it is a stimulant. If you want to help get yourself ready for sleep then opt for a herbal tea instead.
Easier said than done I know but stress can impact negatively on your sleep. If you do some deep breathing or mindfulness it will help you unwind and relax. Also keep a small notebook by your bed. In it write down anything that is troubling your or a to do list. It gives your brain permission to forget about those things until morning at least.
I hope you have found these secrets of help to you and that you also now know the benefits of walking on sleep.