January brings all sorts of New Year’s Resolutions and goals. Often some of those are losing some weight and getting fit. The gyms are full and people have already hit the jogging trails. We want to get stronger, fitter and healthier in 2021. Have you ever made a sleep goal? Did you know that your other goals of getting fit could actually help you sleep better? We are confident that a little extra strength training can help you sleep better.
We can get fit and sleep more. They go hand and hand. Its the best of both worlds.
“We have solid evidence that exercise does, in fact, help you fall asleep more quickly and improves sleep quality,” says Charlene Gamaldo, M.D. , medical director of Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at Howard County General Hospital.
Why Strength Training?
Most evidence and support of tying of exercise and sleep together is based on a moderate level of activity (brisk walking, cycling or jogging). There hasn’t been many studies that strength training (muscle strengthening activities like pushup, squats and weight training) directly helps you sleep better until recently in the Preventative Medicine Reports. They studied over 23,000 Germans and the study was the first of its kind. It was the first look to see if there was any correlation, even one day a week, strength training to sleep. Their conclusion, even though not extensive, was that moderate strength training can help you sleep better.
Where to Start Strength Training?
- Hire a certified strength and condition coach. We recommend if you have no experience with strength training to first hire a trainer coach who can help you with technique, a plan and help you accomplish your goals.
- Body Weight. We recommend starting with body weight exercises; push ups, air squats, box step ups, tricep dips, etc
- Start small and grow into it. The goal is to sleep better and get fit at the same time. Don’t expect to set any weight lifting Olympic records where you need to wear a spandex outfit and snort smelling salts before you begin. Start with light weights and high reps. 10-15 reps for 5 sets.
- Focus on each body part. Take days to cycle through working on pushing and pulling. Front and back legs, front and back arms, chest and back. Shoulders and core.
- See a doctor before you begin if you have any other pre-existing health conditions.
When Will I See a Sleep Benefit?
The good news: People who engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise may see a difference in sleep quality that same night. “It’s generally not going to take months or years to see a benefit,” says Dr. Gamaldo. “And patients don’t need to feel like they have to train for the Boston Marathon to become a better sleeper.” The key is to stick with it and find an exercise that you will like and see results.
When Should I Work Out?
“We really want to encourage people to exercise, just be mindful of timing and whether it seems to affect your ability to get optimal sleep quality,” Dr. Gamaldo says. If you workout too close to bedtime it may affect your ability to fall asleep. Although this is a great piece of advice it is different for everyone. Read more about when in your day to work out to help benefit your sleep.
Sweet Cycle of Sleep
In a world where over 70 million Americans suffer with some sort of sleep disorder we are encouraged that strength training & exercise help you sleep. We also know that sleeping better helps you in your fitness goals and weight loss. Its a wonderful cycle. More Sleep -> Better Fitness. More Fitness -> Better Sleep.
Other resources to help you sleep better: