Another restless night. You try to sleep, but can’t. You get up and read, drink a cup of tea, watch a boring television show. Then, you go back to bed—and you still can’t sleep. You aren’t worried about anything in particular. You didn’t eat anything weird. You were at your desk, working, from daylight to dark. What in the world is wrong with you? Have you ever felt like that? Here’s what to do about it.
The Secret Maxim for Sleep
You’ve heard the maxims. You can probably repeat them word for word. Everyone knows this stuff:
- A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
- Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.
- If at first you don’t succeed, try again.
Well, here’s a new maxim—one that may be able to solve your (lack of) sleep problem. As with the other maxims, you probably don’t want to hear it, after all, once you hear the truth, you are obligated to either heed it or go on in willful defiance. If you would—sleep well, work well. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, one assertion is that regular activity improves sleep. Backed up by study after study, the idea can seem contradictory at first glance: The more active you are, the better you sleep. Below you will find key points from the research:
- Improved sleep may also benefit your exercise, it’s a two-way street.
- Exercise is a complex activity that may serve to stress the body.
- Exercise is a non-drug alternative for the treatment of insomnia. However, there is no best type, intensity, or duration of exercise that works best.
What Is the Best Exercise to Treat Insomnia?
There is no best exercise, but the wrong exercise can stress, rather than relax you. What is the best exercise? It is the one that is right for you, and for many of us, that has nothing to do with pumping iron at the gym. Weight resistance is certainly advisable for all, but sweating and grunting your way through a brutal boot camp-style ordeal is not always the best answer. Try some of these:
Yoga: This is an old art, rediscovered. Yoga studios are flourishing, as dog-tired office workers find they can stumble in to a session tired and weak, but leave refreshed. Don’t think yoga is all about assuming weird positions, either. Many forms of yoga pack a genuine workout. Try guided fitness videos that focus on different methods of yoga that allow the session to take place in the privacy of your own home.
Walking: Only in the past century of human history has the automobile been the primary mode of transportation. Sure, riding on other animals was in vogue for thousands of years prior, yet most people walked a great deal and comparably few worked at a desk. Get active and start walking. See your neighborhood, your city, your life—differently.
Seek opportunity: Are there stairs to take in lieu of an elevator? Can you park further away from your destination, rather than seek the closest available spot? What if you carry your own golf bag and forego a cart? Are there trails near your home that need to be explored? Be on the lookout for ways to move, for moving is all it really takes to help your body welcome a good night’s sleep.