If long days are leading to surprisingly restless nights, it’s time to shape up your sleep cycle. We all know that not getting enough zees can make us grouchy and decrease mental performance, but sleeplessness may also increase the risk of diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Regular exercise can help; here are three ways to make walking the stuff dreams are made of.
Avoid late-night workouts
It’s common sense: Regular exercise makes it easier to fall asleep and it helps you sleep more soundly. But if you’re working out too close to bedtime, you could actually be keeping yourself up. According to the Mayo Clinic, you should make sure that your exercise routine ends at least five hours before you go to bed, since working out provokes a temporary hike in stress hormones that can make peaceful slumber more elusive. The ideal time of day to exercise is different for everyone; you can find yours by working out in the evening for two weeks – by, for example, taking a walk just after dinner – and then rating the quality of your sleep each morning. Then, for another two week period, exercise in the morning, and rate your sleep again. After a month, you should be able to tell what works best for you.
The Canadian Lung Association estimates that up to 20 percent of adults have at least a mild form of sleep-disordered breathing, like apnea, where your sleep is interrupted for short periods when you stop breathing throughout the night. Fortunately, sticking to an exercise habit can help you breathe better: A study from the University of Wisconsin tracked more than 1,100 adults for three years and found that, regardless of their weight, regular activity meant fewer breathing problems at night. Even better, the benefits increased the more they worked out.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, between two and three percent of Canadians, mostly women, suffer from serious Seasonal Affective Disorder, with another 15 percent feeling some of the “winter blues.” For those of us who do, the colder months can mean listlessness and fatigue, and the urge to oversleep. But it’s best to fight the desire to hibernate: Getting outside in the sun can help you beat the winter blahs and get your sleep schedule back on track.