According to a study by the Better Sleep Council, 60% of people who regularly lift weights sleep for an average of more than seven hours each night. If you are struggling with poor sleep, this could be music to your ears. Before you dust off your old set of dumbbells, however, it is important to understand why weightlifting is seen as such a great tool for improving sleep.
No-one is saying that perfectly toned muscles immediately lead to a good, restful nights sleep, but the act of weightlifting has other effects on the body and the mind that in turn help to improve our sleep. If one of the following situations rings some alarm bells, this alternative approach to aiding sleep disorders could be for you.
Strength training can have a massive effect on our bodies and our health, which results in better sleep patterns.
Strength training can have more than a few stereotypes attached to it. Weightlifting can be seen as the ideal way to bulk up muscle and change your physique but other potential outcomes can be overlooked. While muscle tone and weight loss are the ultimate goals for many, the impact on the regulation of our metabolic rate and blood pressure are arguably more important for long-term health benefits.
It is not the simple case that weightlifting makes you sleepy, and it is definitely not advisable to do a few reps with the dumbbells before bed. Exercise raises the heart rate and refreshes the body in a way that makes it ideal for the start of the day but not the end. Instead, weight training can help with many of the triggers that may be causing our sleep disorders.
Many of us suffer from poor sleep or insomnia for reasons such as inactivity during the day, chronic pain, obesity and depression. By lifting some weights in the morning or increasing your resistance training, you can do something about these issues and potentially help your sleep disorder.
Light Sleep And Inactivity
It can sound a little simplistic to those that struggle with insomnia after a long day of work, but it is easier for most of us to fall into a sound sleep when we have tired ourselves out during the day. Most forms of exercise can help with this but the high-energy bursts of strength training can really attack the muscles and get the heart pumping. Weightlifting is so intense that the body needs time to heal and recover – it is how those new muscles are built and repaired – and the body needs deep sleep to do this. Add a session with the weights to your daily routine and you could find that light, restless sleep is a thing of the past.
Difficulty Sleeping And Chronic Pain
Chronic pain in our muscles and joints can have a detrimental impact on our ability to fall asleep – as soon as we start to drift off, a sharp twinge in the hip or lower back brings us back around. This can be a major issue for older patients, especially those that are dealing with a sedentary lifestyle, and strength training exercises are now being recommended as therapy. Weightlifting helps to build strength in muscles and improve bone density but there is also the chance of improving posture and any muscle imbalances that are particularly problematic. A 2005 study from the “Journal of Sport Sciences and Medicine” states that adults in this situation, who then participated in a six-month strength training program, saw significant improvements in the quality of their sleep.
Sleep Apnea And Obesity
This issue will not affect as many people as that of poor sleep due to chronic pain or inactivity, but it is still worth consideration if you know that you are overweight or have been diagnosed with sleep apnea. Losing weight is one of the best courses of action for patients with this condition – as statistics have shown that more than 85% of sufferers are obese – and the path to a slimmer body may as well be weightlifting. It may seem like a difficult choice compared with light treadmill work but the additional benefits for sleep and overall health definitely outweigh the cons.
Insomnia And Depression
This final issue is a tricky one because both aspects – insomnia and depression – are such difficult issues to understand and treat. There is however, a strong link between depression and insomnia that means that if you can treat the former more effectively, you have a better chance of aiding the latter. There are different ways that weightlifting helps people feel better about themselves.
On the physical side, the change in appearance and posture can allow for greater confidence and a better sense of well-being. On a chemical level, this sort of training can also release endorphins that help combat stress and anxiety. It may sound far-fetched at first, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that “strength training provides similar improvements in depression as anti-depressant medications”.
By lifting some weights on a regular basis, you can have a positive effect on health and, in turn, a positive effect on sleep.
The link between weightlifting and poor sleep is actually stronger than you may first imagine. By increasing strength and resistance training, you can enjoy many different physiological benefits, many of which have their own potential effect on the length and depth of our sleep.
Through weightlifting a few days a week – nothing too strenuous – you can work the different muscle groups in your body and give them time to rest and repair. This intense activity for a short period in the morning or early evening can help you improve the health and strength of your bones and muscles, enhance your posture, release endorphins and regulate both your metabolic rate and blood pressure.
Add all of this together and not only can the muscle build up and the pounds fall off, you can be closer to the strong, confident you that you have been looking for and your chronic pain, depression and restlessness can all ease. With these issues under better control, it shouldn’t be long before a good night’s sleep follows. Also, try out tips on this page.