FYI Health Tip
A 30 minute walk not only helps sleep quality, but can also help decrease stress levels.
If you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you may want to check into two of our most basic human needs: diet and exercise. If balanced correctly, both can lead to a deeper, more restful sleep. If you’re lacking one or the other, it may prevent you from the sleep you need to stay healthy.
A recent article in the New York Times cites numerous studies affirming what many people believe—that exercise during the day can help you sleep better at night. Including 30 minutes of moderate exercise into your day can help you fall asleep faster, extend the duration and improve the quality of your sleep. This doesn’t need to be a heavy exercise program—a 30 minute walk not only helps sleep quality, but can also help decrease your stress levels. While exercise is important for a restful night, timing is important for optimum benefit.
Many people enjoy the convenience of exercising in the evening. Hitting the gym after work can definitely help relieve stress and get your body moving if you’ve been sitting in an office all day. Try to keep plenty to time—at least 3 hours—between your exercise routine and your bedtime. If you exercise right before you go to bed, your elevated heart rate could keep you from falling asleep at your intended bedtime.
Keeping track of when and what you eat can also help you sleep at night. Sleep specialist for the Mayo Clinic Timothy Morgenthaler, M.D. recommends eating a light snack a few hours before bed to stave off hunger pangs before bed. A good snack could be a small bowl of oatmeal or a bowl of cereal with milk. If you’re working late and catching a late dinner, try to make it a small dinner. Eating a heavy meal before bed can disrupt sleep. Eating spicy foods for dinner can cause heartburn, which may lead to discomfort when you lie down.
In addition to food, what you choose to drink can impact your sleep quality. Taking too many trips to the bathroom during the night because you drank too much water can prevent you from having restful sleep. Also, keep the alcohol to a minimum. While it may initially cause sleepiness, it can decrease the quality of your sleep. And there’s no scientific truth to the theory of warm milk helping sleep. But if it works for you, then keep doing it!
Many people think they have a sleep disorder because they have trouble falling asleep or they wake up frequently during sleep. Before you see your doctor, take a good look at your diet and exercise routines. Make sure you’re getting the proper amount of exercise, but don’t do it right before bed. Don’t eat a heavy or spicy dinner before you go to sleep. And don’t drink too much water before bed. If you’re still having problems after you’ve looked at these issues, then see a doctor. A good night’s sleep may depend on the simple things you do every day.
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