Exercise and Insomnia

Exercise can be very beneficial towards helping someone to have a good night’s sleep. The time of day though is the key to whether it helps to combat or helps to contribute to insomnia. In order to understand the key role of exercise it is necessary to understand how our bodies work.

Under normal conditions the brain responds to daylight and produces natural hormones that regulate our sleep/wake cycle. As the sun begin to set it provides melatonin to help us relax and feel sleepy. During the day while we are active it produces endorphins and beneficial stress hormones to help us feel happy, alert, and energized.

Keeping active and getting some aerobic exercise three to four times per week will do much to ward off insomnia. During exercise the body will produce more of the healthy stress hormones and endorphins. These natural chemicals will be available to us when we need them and the level then begins to drop as the day goes on. Then when the sun goes down the brain will replace them with the melatonin needed for restful sleep.

If one were to wait until late in the day to undertake an exercise routine it will actually contribute to insomnia. The bloodstream will now be full of the energizing hormones brought on by exercise. Having an abundance of these late in the day will work against the sleep hormone and keeps the person tossing and turning all night. Then they will be groggy and listless the next day.

It becomes an unhealthy cycle of drinking too much coffee and cola to get through the day and then taking sleep aids at night to get to sleep. But the sleep this results in is not good, restful sleep. Sleep aids can disrupt the normal cycles of sleep. Throughout the night we normally spend a portion of the time in dream, or REM sleep, and some of it in deep sleep. These sleep aids actually deprive a person of the deep sleep which is most beneficial in rejuvenating the body and mind.

Instead of sleep aids, some people believe that by taking a melatonin supplement they will be better off. But doctors advise that this is not a wise choice to make in fighting insomnia. This over-the-counter supplement is not helpful because our bodies already produce enough of it. It is better to just let our natural hormones do their job instead of taking artificial supplements which will just worsen the problem.