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Regular exercise is a great way to stay in shape and live a healthy lifestyle. However, the relationship between the two is perhaps more complex than a lot of people realise, and a failure to acknowledge how they are linked can negatively affect both sleep quality and the effectiveness of exercise.
Most forms of exercise result in some common effects on the body, including a rapid rise in temperature, energy levels being called upon and an increased production of a number of naturally-occurring chemicals (such as serotonin). These reactions combine to stimulate the body into a state of exertion which simply isn't compatible with sleep.
For sleep to take hold, the body needs to be sufficiently relaxed with a regulated temperature. If you try to go to sleep shortly after exercising, your body and mind will be fighting against the stimulating effects of the recent activity, making it impossible to fully relax, lengthening the amount of time you lie awake in bed and generally making you feel uncomfortable.
To avoid this happening it's important to schedule any exercise session to allow for at least three or four hours of relaxation before bedtime. This way you'll be giving your body the time it needs to suitably recover from the exertion of a workout, and to gradually revert to the sedentary state of calmness that should precede bedtime.
If you're embarking on an exercise regime then it's absolutely vital that you prime the body with regular, good quality, rejuvenating sleep. Otherwise you will be potentially harming your body by calling on energy reserves that simply aren’t there to use. When you do have good sleep, your energy levels will be adequate to support your exercise sessions without ill effects. Using up energy throughout the day also helps to ensure that when it comes to bedtime you aren't overly alert, with latent unspent liveliness keeping you awake.
By timing your exercising sessions with recovery and sleep in mind, you're making sure that you will get the best from your workouts, as well as giving yourself the best chance of great quality sleep.
With simple preparation you will find that great quality sleep and regular exercise can be complementary experiences, and your body and mind will benefit from the healthy lifestyle that comes with them.