Smooth Fitness Blog

An Exercise a day keeps the nightmares away.

May 3rd, 2011

Can exercise really help you sleep better?

Can it cut down or increase dreams and nightmares?

Statistics show that nearly 74% of americans have problems sleeping and the average adult gets less than 7 hours of sleep a night. A full NREM sleep cycle consists of 5 stages spanning a total of about 90 minutes so for an average person to get the recommended 7.5 hours of sleep they will get 5 full sleep cycles. How does this tie back to exercising? There are several factors or inhibitors that happen during the course of a day that can impact your sleep cycles and even the length of sleep you get each night.

Exercising and sleep aren’t mutually exclusive. Exercising can have a big impact on how well and how long you sleep. For instance exercising within 3 hours of bedtime can speed up your heartrate and metabolism which in turn increases brain activity and can cause you to have a harder time falling asleep. Conversely exercising earlier in the day or earlier at night can actually help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Studies have shown that exercise has a direct impact on sleep and on average people that exercise will get in a full night uninterrupted sleep and go through all 5 stages of sleep.

So what effect does this have on nightmares and dreams?

Deep sleep or REM sleep is the 5th stage in the sleep cycle and accounts for almost 25% of your total sleep during the night. Research has shown that stress, anxiety, irritability are a leading cause to nightmares. Exercise works to counteract those effects by creating endorphins that make you feel good, excited, rejuvinated. Nightmares have been shown to be directly affected by the addition of exercise into your daily routine. As well allowing you to get a full nights sleep and cut down on irritability and restlessness. Other factors can play a significant role in this like nicotine, caffeine or other stimulants that can effect the brain activity prior to bed.

Especially during the cold winter months and hot summer months a lot of people find it hard to get out and run or exercise 30 minutes or more a day. Often during the winter people find they have a harder time sleeping because of the lack of activity they get during a day. Something as simple as walking, following an instructional video, yoga program or even running on a treadmill or elliptical 30 minutes a day can provide great rewards for someone both physically and mentally. With summer approaching and the weather changing outside we encourage everyone to try and spend 30 minutes walking, jogging, riding bike, running or just playing a sport and see how it can help you personally.

Also for comedic relief getting in shape will enable you to run away from those monsters in your dreams or fight off the evil villain if you do get them.

Happy Exercising and Peaceful Dreams.


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