There are endless benefits of a regular exercise or running routine. It can help you prevent and deal with major illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, obesity, or mental health problems like Dementia or Alzheimer’s.
But one of the biggest benefits in this stress-filled and fast-paced life is that it can improve your sleep quality. Better sleep quality means a better life because it gives you the energy to face everyday challenges. It boosts your immunity and keeps stress and anxiety at bay.
Here’s how running can improve your sleep quality:
- Running helps you fall asleep and avoid insomnia
Insomnia is defined as difficulty in initiating and/or maintaining sleep. It is a common disorder faced by many people. A study shows that moderate exercise leads to faster and lengthier sleep for people suffering from insomnia. Aerobic activities like running or swimming can tire you out, which make it easier for you to fall asleep instead of lying awake in the bed and waiting for the sleep.
Exercise increases body temperature and as the temperature goes back to normal, you will start to feel sleepy. Also, sleep is improved due to a decrease in anxiety and depressive thoughts. Running will also affect the circadian rhythms, i.e. our body clock. Exercise may shift the timing of our body clocks, helping us in falling asleep earlier.
- Running reduces stress
Stress usually leads to sleeping problems which include difficulty falling asleep or restlessness during the night. Exercise can help you fight off stress and anxiety. Moderate exercise can calm down the parasympathetic nervous system that helps you feel relaxed.
Physical activity lowers cortisol levels and reduces blood pressure. It can have a positive impact on the mood. Exercise also produces endorphins that are known as the happy hormone. It helps you relieve anxiety and feel better. Scientists have found that regular aerobic exercise decreases tension levels, elevates mood, improves self-esteem, and improve sleep.
The best part is that you do not need a gym membership or equipment. All you need is a good pair of running shoes and you are good to go.
- Running increases sleep quality and amount
Extensive exercise like running makes it easier to go in deep sleep or slow-wave sleep, which is considered the best for restoration. It gives your mind and body ample time to rejuvenate. Slow wave or deep sleep is also associated with growth hormones in children or growing teens.
A study was conducted in which researchers used a noise stimulant, loud enough to cause a flicker of arousal but not enough to wake up the person. The athletes exposed to this noise still work up refreshed, whereas the non-athletes woke up tired and lethargic as if they had not slept the entire night.
- Running prevents daytime sleeping
Running and exercise can also reduce daytime sleepiness or lethargic feelings. It means you will be more alert and awake during the day. Research has shown that after controlling the age, BMI, smoking status, overall health status, and depression; the risk of feeling sleepy through the day decreased by 65% for those participants who indulged in physical activity.
And because you are more fresh and energetic, you will be able to achieve a lot more and take a well-earned rest at night. People who are sleepy throughout the day actually find it hard to go to sleep at night because they keep taking naps and rest throughout the day.
You can see that running can be of great help in many ways. However, consistency and balance is the key to reap the benefits. If you are running at just weekends or pushing yourself too hard, you might suffer from running injuries or pain. You can also combine the running with resistance training or meditation like Yoga to get even better results.