We are a nation of sleep-deprived individuals, many of us going through the day suffering from extreme fatigue yet being unable to sleep at night.  The stress of work, family, bills, and other obligations create worry and insomnia, which we then try to cure with pills or alcohol.  When sleep does come, it is often not the right kind of sleep that allows us to wake fully rested and ready to tackle the day.  Upon waking, energy drinks and coffee are yet another way to make it through the day in an attempt to overcompensate from inadequate or poor sleep.

There is a scientific link between obesity, lack of exercise, and poor sleep patterns.  Obese people are much more likely to suffer from sleeping disorders such as chronic insomnia and sleep apnea.  Inactive people also suffer from more pain, depression, low energy, and memory problems than athletes and those who regularly exercise.

Though it may seem that exercise is tiring, or that you are even too tired to exercise, did you know that regular aerobic activity will make you fall asleep faster, sleep more soundly, and wake more refreshed? Studies have shown that exercise is much more effective in achieving deep, restful sleep than any other sleep remedy.

What is the best way to exercise for good quality sleep?  The answer may surprise you.  Only 20 minutes of aerobic exercise 4-5 days a week will greatly improve sleep, and the time of day is not as important as you may think. Exercise in the morning will increase metabolism, stimulate your brain, heart, and other bodily systems, make you more productive during the day, and allow you to sleep better at night.  Afternoon or early evening has been shown to be the best time to exercise if you want to sleep well, but working out any time of day can be beneficial.  The only time exercise can hinder sleep is if it is done within 2-3 hours of bedtime; the stimulation and increase in body temperature can make sleep harder to achieve.

Want to sleep like a baby and wake each day with more energy and focus than you thought possible?  Get in shape and maintain a regular workout schedule.  Eat a balanced diet, drink plenty of water, and stimulate your mind and your body.  Take the time in the evening to relax and unwind, avoid excessive amounts of television and playing on the computer, and go to bed early enough that you can get at least 7 or 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  Exercise makes your body work better, awake or asleep!